“Blond and Brunette,” oil on canvas, by Leo Putz, 1913.

by Lori Nevole

My first girlfriend was Catholic, and thought no one would know she was a lesbian if she kept up a great manicure. A year of Bonnie, her legs sticking lightly to my cheeks. A year of Bonnie’s downy hair reaching like the tail of a star up to her belly button. Of secret handholding under the Calculus desks. Her blood ran so hot, to touch her was to turn her into a fogged window, a pink lampshade in a red light district. She covered her eyes with her arm the whole time I was in her bed.

We went to her church for a Sunday evening mass, when the choir was off duty and weekend workers sat sparse and exhausted in the pews. She tucked her long, glossy French tips into a steeple as we knelt. I folded my hands and stared hard at the skinny, pale Jesus nailed to the crucifix above the altar. I wondered if Bonnie ever tried to make herself love those thin muscles. The whole place felt depressingly male. Solemn beige floors, hard wooden pews, tiny stained glass windows showing the PG violence of the stations of the cross. It reminded me of straight men in their dark neutral t-shirts and cargo pants, everything baggy, stumpy fingers scrubbing through low-maintenance soldier haircuts. That dull threat of the Romanesque.

Bonnie and I broke up because we both wanted to try men. I picked Roy because of his gorgeous eyelashes and long, thin fingers. His achingly breakable wrists. Kissing him made me feel like a kid stumbling around the living room in her mother’s heels. Which he did, once, walk around my room in a pair of my mother’s heels, claiming he was doing it to make me laugh. He was exactly what I wanted. I asked him to prom.

Bonnie found me there while a Beyoncé song thrummed through the school gym. She didn’t say hello, but we both looked up from stalled spaces near the coat rack at the same time. Neither of us had a coat. Her date was scrolling through his phone, shooting hopeful glances at her as she picked at coat sleeves. I was holding punch. Roy was talking to some friends. I had been waiting to—what—show off, I guess, or prove something to her. I knew she’d be here somewhere with her own prize. She wore a long slick purple dress, high neckline, with a white corsage drooping off her left strap. Her half-mast eyelids glittered.

She pulled her date towards the pulsing center of the dancers (I watched his shapeless ass wobble under his suit pants). She made a swift right turn, searching for an opening in the throng, and he tripped over his oxfords. For a moment he balanced on one leg with arms open, his back to me, her fingers clasping his hand as he struggled to keep his body from surging forward. He looked like a cross carried, or a Messiah slipping on his robe.

omega man

Lori Nevole lives in Omaha, Nebraska. Her fiction has been published or has pending publication in Flash Fiction Magazine and Arkana.

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