Rejection Letters

Sweet Thing

Antonio lifted his head from its resting place on the jacuzzi’s edge, turned to find his girlfriend Jordan on the other side of the tub looking down at her hands.

“What’s all that?” Antonio started to wade over, a dark substance now swirling in the water’s jet-tides, the white water dusking to a shade of mud. “You bleeding or something?”

“No, I don’t think so—” Jordan raised her hands and they both watched as the brown color from the back of her hands dripped into the jacuzzi, water droplets slashing through the color like tears through makeup. “It’s like I’m melting.”

Antonio reached out to grab one of her hands, examine it. Not only was her skin color washing off into the water, her hand was getting noticeably smaller, softening to a cake-like texture.

“Antonio,” she said. Deer-eyed panic widened her eyes. A few of the braids slipped from her bun’s elastic holder and hit the water, sizzling and fading. The water that smattered her nose and cheeks had started to melt little craters into the skin. “Baby, we gotta get out, we gotta call someone.” She made a move to get out of the tub but found her legs too weak and collapsed back into the jacuzzi. Antonio brought her hand to his mouth to kiss it, but its sponginess called him further. He put her thumb into his mouth instead, and it melted on his tongue.

Suddenly, Jordan could hear her own pulse over the roar of the jets as the terror set in. Yet she couldn’t pull away, her eyes glued to Antonio’s throat as he swallowed.

“You check the water temperature before you get in?” Antonio asked, studying her hand in his grip. He pinched her pinky finger in his hand and gave it a slight twist, smiled when it detached from the hand with ease. “Did that hurt?” Her palm was almost mush in his hands now, forcing him to move his hold to her forearm as the wrist began to dissolve. The top to her bathing suit thrashed with the water’s torrent as her breasts abandoned the cups, curled in the water in liquid form.

“Antonio, did you—”

He released her arm into the water and chuckled at the sight of her ears going to fudge, drizzling down her shoulders. By now, the pink of her lips was like wet cotton candy, disappearing by the second. When she tried to speak, he moved forward to cover her lips with his. “You know, I did always call you my sweet thing, didn’t I?” He nuzzled his nose along the edge of her jaw. Then he took a bite.

***

Taylor Byas is a first year Creative Writing PhD student at the University of Cincinnati. She completed her Masters in English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she was a part of the reading and editing staff for both Birmingham Poetry Review and NELLE. Her work appears or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, Jellyfish Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Another Chicago Magazine, and others.

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