Vices & Devices This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Around his neck hangs a cheap plastic
locket, a gift from her. (pause.) You want to say it, want to scream
it, but you're a coward and he's asleep, so you nestle into the curve of his neck and inhale,
scent of fresh jasmine and apple blossom.
You curl your arm around his blanket, nose and fingers and heart throbbing
please, please let me keep his moment.

You can't move, can't talk, because this moment
is a rare one, one that (you know) can snap like plastic.
(pause, slumber.) In your dreams, you run, legs throbbing,
until your lungs ache and your eyes scream
that you are dead and flowers blossom
before your fingers. Inhale.

Him, and you, and her - exhale - and the ghosts in between. Inhale.
You awaken (and you hate this moment)
and trace the blossoms
on his blanket with your thumb. The plastic
clock on his table says that it's morning, and the coolness of his sheets scream
that he's gone. Your fingers, in the middle of drawing a petal, are throbbing.

( and it comes to this: a metronome of long limbs and throbbing
heartbeats marking a second lost, a second gone, when you inhale
and exhale and pause and scream
as the moment
stops and you realize all you have left to cling to in this plastic
world are the remains of a pretty, pretty childhood -- and people blossom. )

There's something new on his table - a picture frame with a blossom
carved into the dark wood, the etched design rough and throbbing
underneath your fingertips. The photo is the kind that's taken with a plastic
toy camera that captures people (him, and her) in a half inhale
instead of a smile, the kind of camera that always captures the wrong moment
(instead of him, and you). Something akin to a scream

rises in your throat -- I love you, I love you. You want to say it, want to scream
it, but your heart aches and this wasn't supposed to blossom,
so you slip into your dress and slip away like you always do - in a moment,
in a moment; when you can see through the water and can breathe through the throbbing
gasps of exhale, inhale, exhale --
inhale.
This girl in the cheap glass and pink plastic

mirror next to the bed with her mouth opened in a scream
and her whole body throbbing
can't be you, but she smells of of apple blossom
and fresh jasmine and you inhale
because you don't want this moment
to pass, when your hand curls around the locket, real and breakable and plastic.





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