1. Digital butterfly

His hands are rough, like sex, and when he touches me it is delirium and fever and ecstasy, but he is only reading my palms. Butterfly, he says, digital butterfly and traces his fingers along the fate line. Social media influencer, I remind myself, that’s who you are. It makes sense. He has long hair, black, melanin, falling against his shoulders as he dances his pointer finger and then his middle towards the heart line. Yes, there is rage and loss and obsession. Yes, there is desire. Jacaranda, he says and I understand. The petals would fall on Los Angeles sidewalks.

Yes, I remember.

He traces further, white t-shirt, black silk. He feels like cool sands at midnight, like quiet beaches with prescient waves. His fingertips move along my palm and I wonder if I’ve ever been known and then he stops, looks up, his eyes grey but also charcoal. You like wine? He asks. Don’t you know? I think, but he pours a glass and it is dry and friendly.

I drink and my skin grows warm and buzzes. From his couch I can see into the kitchen and there are hand towels printed with small black butterflies.

  1. Dancer

Don’t you wanna hold me down? Touch me? I ask.

He’s sitting on the bed, Motel 6. I’m standing in front of him, florescent pink lace and long legs. Glitter on my eyes. I put my hands in his hair, hair the color of the dark pavement in the parking lot when it rains, the darkest. I run my hands through that black silk, run them down white t-shirt, chest, abdomen, thighs.

No, he says, I only want to touch your hands. His eyes empty beaches late at night, early into the morning before the sun rises.

I place my hands over his face, cradle him, and his lips run along my palms as I bring them down in front of him to hold. He takes the right and then the left. This is the heart line, he says. This is the fate line. On his arm beneath his shoulder is a tattoo of the yin-yang symbol, thick black. The color green, he says and I think of the heels I wore last night, plastic against metal. Philosophy major, and I think UCLA. Dancer, and that is now, how I make my money, how I got here, this motel room. He moves his thumbs along every line.

Beneath his skin I feel electricity like a gentle hum, wings, beating.

Elle Reed

Elle Reed is a writer from California. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bombfire, Bullshit Lit, Misery Tourism, White Wall Review, Metonym, and others. She is currently finishing her first novel, about the desert, longing, and friendship.

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