“The Strangers,” oil on canvas by Darwin Leon
Some beastly friends from long ago have teeth that became the most luxurious pillows. As we start to reminisce they throw back their heads, roaring, then tongues unfurl as down comforters.
They beckon me in with gaping grins, though I can tell by the crinkles of their eyes: They still want to eat me. But how can I keep distant, they’re so terribly inviting. I dive in and kick off my shoes, sweeping angels into the cool linen. The monsters gurgle blah blah blah, their plush gullets, once muscular and hard, struggling to swallow. Not that they have reason to gripe. At the end of my stay how tenderly I’ll smooth the flat sheet over the bedcover’s top edge. What care I’ll take to palm wrinkles off the sham. My old friends pat my shoulder as I duck out, their tongues rolled up in compact bundles. Their smiles appear all delight, but I see it in the tight crease of their lips: Curses! I imagine them gnashing their teeth watching me saunter off—frustrated, natch, though I’m more thinking how good and fluffed those pillows will be should I ever come back to town.
Jesse Cheng is from Southern California. Works have appeared or are forthcoming in NANO Fiction, Pear Noir!, and Asian Pacific American Journal. His website is jesse-cheng.com