You remind me of that guy in the movies,
the one with the eyes
They fight in open spaces. The taste of blood sends Vanessa swooning. Stamps of bruises marking her face. First class to outer space and beyond. “You send me beyond,” she says to Robert with a right hook to his jaw.
Blood lovers broken lip to broken lip he pulls her hair and she growls, sensing his pause. If he had a camera on the left side of his face he would take a picture of this moment. Her mouth a crooked cave, teeth grinding, eyes rolled back. Dirt streaked across her cheek, a half broken nose, three missing teeth, hair that looks like a dog with mange, all moving at a stampede pace to put all of her weight and velocity into the punch that is still held in her fist crooked behind her shoulder. Like a rubber band snapping she swings and it all lets go and saliva and blood goes splattering. This is when he would take the picture.
Robert is a student of the ancient practice of Tai Chi, but the lessons aren’t working here. He remembers his Push Hands Principles and she swats him away. He tries to go through the movements to Carry the Tiger and Return to the Mountain, to Repulse the Monkey, to Needle at Seabottom. She makes a backflip kick to his left ear. He scuttles through the mud until he can get the arm space to Fan Through Back, to make Cloud Hands, to Embrace Peacocks Tail, to move into High Pat on Horse. Vanessa spits her teeth at him. Robert, holding his torn ear manages to Hit the Tiger, to Double Wind Through the Ears, to Wild Horse Parts its Mane, to White Snake Strikes With its Tongue. As she charges him, her body bent forward, her claw fingers twitching, he finally manages to Turn Around and Make the Double Lotus Kick. But he is too late. Vanessa has had enough time to anticipate his slow going movements. She grabs his knees and tackles him to get mud in his teeth and nostrils.
They’ve been looking for this kind of space. Where the gravel, turned into small dunes by semi-trucks and re-built Hondas, creates a desert space. Surrounded by the shipping docks of big-box grocery and dollar stores they find a small home. This parking lot where small hours pass. This gravel hole. They make mirror faces scratch by scratch. If she claws him enough, he thinks, if bit-by-bit she pulls him to pieces. If her nails pull skin cells out. If. If. If. Here he is living half in stinging dry air and half on the dirt gum ground.
“I love you, Vanessa,” he says, through a split tongue. Her knee is pushing into his neck. His arms are bent behind him, his teeth swinging by flesh.
“I love you too, Robert,” she says, her nails pulling lines through his cheeks.
Mary Hamilton is a writer, teacher, and optician in Chicago where she is also the co-host and co-founder of the QUICKIES! reading series. Her chapbook We Know What We Are was recently published by Rose Metal Press. She blogs about inspirational sports movies at inspirationalsportsmovies.blogspot.com.
Heather Ingram is a photographer living in Horn Lake, Mississippi. She has a love for the Mississippi Delta and documents decaying field houses and buildings in the region.