Tangerine Robin (an excerpt)

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. I’m planning to share a lot more about Aroha and its sequel in the coming weeks, but since it’s a lazy Sunday for me today, I decided to post just a little snippet of something I’m working on. It’s an “on the side” piece, part of a larger compilation that I bounce to and from whenever I feel like it.

This story is – as of right now – the first in a series, which will be in my book “About a Girl” (working title). It’s called “Tangerine Robin” and I owe a whole lot of different, wholly unconnected but unique people thanks for inspiring it. This snippet is really just a teaser, but I hope you enjoy.


Tangerine Robin

She actually breezed into her apartment, feeling momentarily lighter. Her black skirt was dirty and wrinkled, but she still felt weirdly princess-like as she sunk down into the beaten up armchair with the stuffing falling out the arm. The house was a mess, as usual – the ashtray overflowing with butts, papers everywhere, the dregs of last night’s bourbon binge still thick and syrupy in the tumbler on the side table. But she felt luminous, lighter than air. She kicked her legs out in front of her in a little half-kick, waiting for the ancient chair to recline, which it finally did with a loud creak. As it did, her skirt flew up and billowed back down to her thin white legs, like wind deflating from sails. She caught a whiff of lingering scent; the smell of clean antiseptic, fresh linen, and the faintness of cigarette smoke. Cloves. Her skirt smelled of his place, of where she’d been. It was covert, a secret. Where I’ve been. A small smile flitted on her face, and she knew it was kind of sad, but you took joy where you could get it. She leaned down, fanning her cheeks with the thin fabric, to immerse herself in the memory, as though it was already fading, this thing she’d done just forty five minutes ago. As she leaned forward, her hair fell into her face. She took the red strands in both hands, pushing it over her eyes, cradling her head, her entire face covered with it. It smelled like his place, too. Like him. She inhaled deeply, clutching the deep, orangey-red strands to her nose and eyes, imagining it was his hair and not her own, taking a moment to lock the memory into place, to pretend she was still there. Because it had been the last time; they’d both known that. Her hair felt soft to her own touch, softer than it looked, softer than she herself was. She hoped that he would remember her as soft, and not as the hard, cold, small thing she was most of the time. But she honestly didn’t know how he thought of her. She barely knew herself anymore. As for him, she knew nothing about him at all, except for the way his hands felt on her, the way he smelled, and the strange paradox of his face, which always appeared to be somehow amused and annoyed at the same time. She was okay with this. To know him better would ruin it.

In a moment she’d rise and shower, and he’d wash off her skin and her hair forever. But it didn’t matter. She wouldn’t wash the dress. She’d hang it up, worn and wrinkled as it was, and as she walked by it hanging in her closet every day, she’d stop for a moment to smell the antiseptic and cloves and smoke and linen. She’d smell it every day, and she’d smile. At least until the smell faded away. Which was inevitable, because everything faded eventually.

Well, except grief. She knew that well enough.

By lillahlawson

Author of Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree (Regal House, 2019), and the Dead Rockstar Trilogy (Parliament House, 2020). Georgia Author of the Year Nominee. Poet, Essayist, Genealogist.

One reply on “Tangerine Robin (an excerpt)”

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