June 18, 2017

Subsong

by Tara Isabel Zambrano

There’s a lady in the room. She is wearing a bikini, her nails painted black. Her ears are too close to her skull. She is looking out the window, gazing upon a pool boy, bare-chested and muscular. He looks up at her and smiles. It might be trouble, she thinks, and leans her head against the wooden frame. He wonders if she will smile and his eyes squint into the sun. His heart throbs when she smiles back.

There’s a lady on an inflatable beach chair by the pool. Her skin is smooth, her eyes big and round watching the pool boy circling his tongue over her navel. The lady shifts her gaze at a cawing crow and laughs. She mimics a subsong: a low rattling courtship call among birds. The pool boy lifts his head and sees her open mouth, her syllables dispersed like pollen. The crow turns his head and flies away.

There is a lady in her bedroom and she is sleeping. The curtains are drawn and a faint moonlight shivers in. She is dreaming about the pool boy. He is between her legs and on her lips at the same time. She wishes the boy could go deeper into her skin, rake away whatever is left over from her last lover. And by the end of it she would feel like a clean pool, sunlight shimmering on her body.

There is a lady walking by the poolside, her breath heaving, and her skin paler than usual. She feels a kick in her belly and longs to give the baby a light squeeze. She wonders: if she does a subsong, will the baby hear? The pool boy is using a net affixed to a long pole to extract dirt and debris, light from the water dotting across his skin like Morse code. She waves at him, her stomach and hips pushing against the seams of her bikini. He smiles at her with a casual and distant politeness, his thoughts preoccupied with a girl he kissed last night. Before she dips her legs, she glances at the bottom of the pool. It seems shallower than it is.

There is a lady in the nursery. She is elated as she watches her baby napping, smiling occasionally at a dream. She has forgotten what the pool boy looks like. The days are shorter, filled with cidery smell and rich colors. Her body smells of breast milk and soiled diapers. Two crows on the maple tree branch closest to the window caw together. In the mirror she sees the stretched skin of her stomach and pulls it in for a moment, convinces herself she did it all for love. She laughs when the mirror blares that it isn’t true. She decides to shave her legs and find her bikini. Poolside, she watches auburn leaves drift, gathering at the edge of the pool as if guarding the water.

 

 


Tara Isabel Zambrano lives in Texas and is an electrical engineer by profession. Her work has recently appeared in Lunch Ticket, Storm Cellar, Moon City Review and other journals. She is a fiction reader for The Tishman Review, and is a Pushcart and Best Small Fictions nominee.