Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salt

selective focus photography of turned on black metal framed light sconce

Fiona J. Mackintosh

In the crouch of twilight, he hums a single tuneless note under the droop of the rhododendrons. From beyond the hedge, the street air clags his throat with tar and rough metal. Her husband’s probably left for the pub by now and won’t be back till closing, but he has to be sure. How much time’s gone by he can’t say. He’s turned off his phone for fear of its liquid crystal glow. There’s an ache in his legs and the knees of his trousers are damp, but he knows she’s in there behind the drawn blind, that taunting rectangle of light. His tongue curls around her name, tasting clotted cream and maple syrup. The first thing he’ll do is flip her over and lick the valley of her spine from her crack to the neck bone, slicking the tiny hairs against the grain. From wraiths, he conjures the others whole, mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, a festival of fragrance and bile. Tampon strings and blood stains, the cheese rind of breast milk on the bedclothes. The snap and bite of their incisors. The one he’s waiting for is all this and more with her lovely slaggardly thighs and the delicious roll of fat around her middle, and his need throbs like a hammered thumb. Just as he can wait no longer, the porch light snaps off. In the darkness there she stands, silhouetted in the open door, and his mouth starts to water as she whisper-calls his name. 

Fiona J. Mackintosh (@fionajanemack) is the Scottish-American author of a flash fiction collection The Yet Unknowing World (http:/adhocfiction.com). She is a past winner of the Fish, Bath, and Reflex Flash Fiction Awards, and her stories were selected for Best Microfiction 2019, the Best Small Fictions 2019, and the 2018-19 BIFFY50. She received an Individual Artist’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2016. Learn more at: www.fionajmackintosh.com.