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Image by Drew Beamer
13. Anna_Salenko.jpg


The buildings are sharp as shards of glass, like flakes from the snow that will never fall in Hong Kong. So many straight lines are incongruous in a place where the heat swells sweaty bodies and makes flesh amorphous. I could cut myself with corners, I could cut myself with the past that haunts me and the future that just won't come, caught between inexplicable pauses in time and a failed marriage. Maybe I should flag down that cab, get the hell out of here, and leave this vampire city behind, but I’m not ready. Not yet.

And that is when I see her.

She approaches swaying her curves conscientiously, with the wisdom granted by years of masculine gazes burning the peachy flesh. I look at her and feel my husband's arm tremble at my side when he recognizes her, just a few seconds after me. I force my body to show no tension as we walk right up to her, focusing on the lines on my face to keep them from contracting. It's her. Seven and a half million inhabitants in Hong Kong and we had to come across precisely her.

Her red dress lights up the street, transforms it. The asphalt is light purple, the building bubblegum pink, orange, reflecting the setting sun in a sky white as her thigh that peeks temptingly through the slit in her skirt. The colors are wrong, the world upside down, land through the looking glass in this labyrinth of glass and melted asphalt.

We pass in front of her without stopping, barely allowing ourselves a stiff nod to acknowledge her existence, to admit that we know each other. Roland remains silent. I wonder what he thinks, if he remembers the taste of her skin as well as I do. He doesn't know anything, of course not, he would never understand. Women in my position don't fall in love with our husbands' occasional mistresses, no. Women in my position don't consider pulling the rug, sticking the knife in, throwing everything up in the air. What is expected of us is that we smile and shut up, that we charge our frustration, fear and anxiety on the credit card and spice it up with a little Botox and, at most, a sweaty boy, barely older than our sons, or a dancer trying to open a career and in need of contacts. That's as far as our radius of action goes. But they do not know. You do not know.

We stop for brunch at a charming French-style restaurant that has recently opened. My body still trembles within the confines of my skin, as if it were thick like a rhino’s. It remains undaunted on the outside, even though my insides are still shaking. Roland extends the silence and says nothing beyond platitudes about the menu. He has always been a coward. I look at him out of the corner of my eye while he munches his smoked salmon: his too-slender fingers slightly trembling, the neat beard of someone who looks too much in the mirror, and I find myself bored. I just want to be with her and not here with him sipping a stupid mimosa. My husband uses the phone to get away from me and I appreciate the extra time to collect myself. I haven't seen her in weeks, but she's stunning as always. Roland curls up behind the news on his phone screen and I can't help but notice a piece of parsley staining his teeth. When did he lose all my respect? When did I start to despise him? Did I ever even love him? That's when I decide: I want to be free and a divorce is not going to be enough. I want his head.

Barely a week later I am the one striding down Hollywood Road with the powerful gait of a gazelle. My athletic legs spread the skirt of my white dress like the sails of a ship, propelling me decisively down the sidewalk. I don't feel the weight of the sports bag I carry with me, I am walking on clouds, above the water. Tonight, I'm going to see her; tonight, I'm going to slip between her sheets one more time before I'm out of this razor-sharp, vampire town forever. But first, I have a pending stop.

 I am in front of a tall, functional building that seems to be looking at me with indifference. It is hard to believe that this place would have been a secret and hidden sanctuary in the city for my husband. There is no charm in its features, perhaps he chose it for that very reason, because it is vulgar like him.

Imbued with that same luminous lightness that has brought me here, I head towards the reception and I put my husband's American Express on the polished desk and a young woman with a professional smile picks it up with her perfectly manicured nails.

“Do you have more luggage?”

“No,” I smile sideways looking at the gym bag at my feet, “just this bag.”

I enter the elevator with the bag tied firmly. “Well,” I sigh, “alone again.” I look at the gym bag I'm still holding in my hand.

“Do not blame me. You did this to yourself.”

I enter the room with the plastic key and deposit the bag on the double bed. I open it and gently remove my husband's bloody head.

“Oh, honey, it's time to say goodbye.”


13. Anna Salenko Art 2.jpg


I have seen the bull.

Black as the night, immense as the infinite universe without a soul.

The bull running, its stinking hooves kicking up the dust from the ground.

I have seen the bull. I see.

The beast approaches, black and immense.

The beast approaches, like my sorrow.

Soon the black of his hair will cover everything.

At his feet, my baby languid, tangled in a blanket stained with soil.

My baby who was all pink and gold. My white milk.

I see the bull.

And now the black beast conceals the horizon and the sun is no longer felt.

It was there, I still remember it, my baby's mouth warm on my breast.

The bull approaches and the black will cover everything.

My words exorcise, conjure the pain to take away its power.

The wounded earth split open like my belly.

There are no staples or threads to close this wound.

My open belly, the cut land where the waters rush.

I have seen the bull. And the words taste like dust in my throat.

Open my pregnant throat as they opened my belly.

Bring out the blood-soaked words.

Cry with me.

Let's mourn together.


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