Twelve Dollar Wigs Lose Their Hair So Easy
I find evidence of you everywhere, each time you spend the night.
Lipstick staining the butt of your cigarettes, collapsed ground-out shapes littering the porch and my late gramma’s bronze ashtray. Redblue, Russian Ruby — left over from when we swayed together in lilac twilight. In the record player is your favorite; John Denver’s Back Home Again. Its sleeve is well-thumbed, though only by your hands. Gently, I slide the record home. Slip it back into place between Fleetwood Mac and Clapton.
Russian Ruby tastes like wax and like something perfumed, like a flower dipped in a candle sealed behind glass. I put the cigarette butts in my mouth to try and chase the taste, but all that lurks there is the taste of old ash, old nicotine. I dump them out into the trash, and then empty the vacuum over them to cover them in dirt and dog hair and my wife’s fingernails.
Next time I see you it’s in that big white Buick we fixed up together last summer, and you don’t roll the windows down, just mouth hello through the cloudy windscreen. A yellow dog with yellow eyes blinks slowly at me from the bed. I can barely make you out, just a smear of a mouth, of a nose. Eyes hidden behind sunglasses, the ones that always drop down into your lap when you put down the sun visor.
I don’t remember the windscreen being so dirty.
I mouth hello back.
Somewhere in that truck is a bag full of women’s clothes, and the grey sweater you borrowed from me, back when summer was sliding into fall. I wonder if they’re mingling together, whether the perfume you wear when you’re all dolled up is pressing itself into the fibers of my sweater. Is it strange if I hope it does? It’ll be the only way you could make me ask for it back.
Later at work you say: “Sorry I didn’t get out to say hi.”
And: “I just wasn’t sure —”
Then we both watch your shoes for a while. Thinking. They’re plain brown work boots, the laces fraying from having lost their little plastic caps. Steel toes, I reckon, knowing you. The smell of sawdust is in the air, from our clothes, our skin. From the mill behind us. From our trucks, parked side by side and open, just willing us to give up the game and drive them home.
I say, “It’s alright.” Then watch you rasp your hand over the blue stubble cropping up on your jaw. The only reason I grow my beard out is that your chin used to rub me raw while we kissed.
A pack of smokes makes a bulge in the breast pocket of your canvas shirt. I resist the urge to touch it; to tap my fingernail teasingly to the tented fabric. We love each other in a way made up of touches, glances, sidelong words. You smack the brim of my cap. I drive my fingers into the soft meat of your side. I don’t know what would happen if I could have you in the ways I have my wife. Surely we’d combust on contact.
Last weekend you left a bobby pin on the edge of the guest bathroom sink, and it just made me sad. Sad because you left it and didn’t realize. Sad because you still use the guest bathroom. Sad because on the pin still clung a string of plasticky blonde hair, and I like you best a brunette.
Alice is a Welsh writer recently graduated with a MSc in Creative Writing from The University of Edinburgh. They specialise in American historical fiction with LGBT+ themes.