One night, while on the patio sofa, touching myself, I call my orgasm, and maybe because of some curiosity on her part, she emerges and sits beside me, part sweat, part flesh. A ripple, star dust on her edges. A milky-eyed orgasm.
I joke that maybe I should introduce her to my parents, they don’t have sex anymore. She laughs, places her delicate fingertips on my back, butterflies fluttering up my spine. “Let me ruin you,” she speaks like a window opened in spring, her words touched by the pollen-beaded wind. Her teeth are small, pointed. Above us, a swollen, yellow moon loiters.
“I was twelve when I first touched myself. By the time I felt you, you’d already left.” I look at her, in a questioning, assessing gaze.
“Your heart can only take so much of love,” she explains, “I must protect you from yourself.” The light around us grows frail. She inches towards me; her face looks blurry up-close. “Everything is clearer after you are done with me,” she whispers, tongues my ear.
My mother calls my name, from somewhere inside the house. I conjure her up: thin lips reciting her love for stone-faced gods, little feet pacing the distance between her bedroom and the kitchen, the last time she was arguing with my father, their voices raised, insufferable. Their cold presence. How shameful it must be to endure a relationship without love or desire.
It’s prayer time, I tell the orgasm. But she doesn’t listen, her fingers are snug between my thighs, she is dirty-talking, words slipping out of her mouth, a thread of saliva. I bird-breathe, try to be as quick as I can.
The night shivers like a membrane.
My mother calls again. I hear her footsteps, imagine the disapproving look if she sees my unzipped shorts, my tank top strap below my shoulder, my left breast exposed. I try to push the orgasm away, but she doesn’t leave. She is too happy to care, so she swallows me whole. My mother opens the patio door, her eyes averted in shame or disbelief, perhaps jealousy. The orgasm continues to work her magic, as if licking a wound deep inside me, sweet and slightly hurtful. “This is your living,” she says, “this is your will, this is your prayer,” until I come down like a wet bird.
“Stand up,” my mother yells, her face beet red. “What’s wrong with you?” She looks unbearably disgusted but wants to watch. Darkness spills around us.
I breathe in hard, feel the orgasm back in my bones, her pilot flame flickering satisfactorily between my legs.
“What’s wrong with you?” My mother shouts again. Curses falling off her mouth like dry lumps of dirt.
I don’t say anything, I keep listening, I keep looking up at the moon, a hot patch between us, my heat reflected off it like glaze.
Tara Isabel Zambrano works as a semiconductor chip designer. Her work has been published in Tin House Online, The Southampton Review, Slice, Triquarterly, Yemassee, Passages North and others. Her full-length flash collection, Death, Desire And Other Destinations, is upcoming in September 2020 with OKAY Donkey Mag/Press. She lives in Texas.