By Scarlet Gonzalez

She is finished growing out her hair. She dyes it blue so can look like fire. She hates how it twists around her neck like vines when she washes it. She likes braiding it around her head, likes to pin in flowers or daisies to make her feel less dried up and thin. She could at least look succulent.

She goes to three different supermarkets until she finds reasonably priced oysters. She buys oil. At home, she crushes garlic under a knife before mincing. She cuts thin slices of onion, throws it all in with the oil. She drops in cubes of butter. She pours in milk.

She ices the oysters before rushing into the bathroom and there is an electric razor in her hand. It is full of bees and trying to buzz away from her fingers.

When her wife comes home, she finds long strands of braided blue on the floor.

There are shreds of flower under their feet. Something in the kitchen is burning. She runs to throw out whatever it is before running to the bathroom.

She doesn’t want help sweeping. She promises to clean the razor, and the sink. She lets the water run. She doesn’t want to talk about it.

I thought you liked your hair. I did like my fucking hair. So why did you shave it?

Why do you care that I shaved it?

The ice is melting under the oysters. She doesn’t want to throw them away. She stares at the braids on the floor. She doesn’t want to throw those away.

I need to finish cooking. I threw it out. You threw it out? It was burning, what did you want me to do? Nothing. Forget it. I’ll fucking starve. I never threw out the oysters though. That’s not going to be enough to fill me.

Fill you? What’s wrong with you?

She collects the braids in her hands. There are loose threads falling out from her fingers. I am literally fucking dying from this cancer shit.

Somewhere far away, someone starts digging. Her wife stands like she is watching the shovel carve the hole out of soil, but she knows the time has not been called yet.

She grabs a Ziploc bag from the kitchen. She holds it open for her. Blue locks fall in like rocks.

Remind me to buy an envelope.

When they go back into the kitchen, they squeeze a lemon and hot sauce over the oysters. They share a plate. In the living room, the television is muted and bright on them. She puts her legs up on the couch and settles as if it were a hospital bed. Her wife pulls up a chair and sits at the side of her. She runs her palm over her patchy bald head, kisses her once, twice, three times.

I love you, baby. More than anything.

They eat like they are practicing a funeral.

Scarlet Gonzalez is a graduate of The City College of New York with a BA in Creative Writing. She has previously been published in literary journals such as Persephone’s Daughters, Breadcrumbs Magazine, Promethean, Crabs Fat Magazine, and The A3 Review. She spends a lot of time watching scary movies, working, and eating with her husband.

Find Scarlet on Instagram @archiver.go