"AN OPEN LETTER" - Z. J. Woods
It's the smell of your hair: soap, weak coffee with too much sugar, damp earth and crushed flowers. I spent the night at a breakfast place, once, to get away from it. It followed me, or the memory of it did, which is the same.
Maybe it's selfish to wish you were a poltergeist.
Remember – we met in line at the little burrito shop on the corner, mutually hungry. I liked your cold-weather hat with the little mammal ears. You went all red and redder until you glowed. You were sick; you hurt.
You said, “Kill me” – you said, “bury me under the violets out front.”
They would know; they wouldn't understand; they'd pull you up by the roots and punish me.
You said, “It doesn't matter anymore.”
So I put you under the flowerbed. I took care not to kill the violets, as you would've liked. I more than half expected them to go red and black as they ate you. They didn't.
Once I plucked a violet petal, set it on my tongue, chewed and swallowed. It tasted like a violet petal. Maybe that's what did it.
It's the smell of your hair, and it fills the place at night. As if there were ten or a hundred of you here all scratching at their scalps. Why don't you move things? Turn lights off and on? Open and close doors? Come at midnight and leave long ragged scratches across my back? Why don't you appear? It's the smell of your hair and it's my favorite thing about you and I can't endure it.
BIO: Z. J. Woods writes stories instead of working on his M.A. thesis. He fails to maintain a preliminary web presence here.