Snowflakes are blue. In Rita’s mind, they’ve always been blue.
Ever since she was a child, and she traded in her ice white crayons for a combination of navy, aqua, and baby blue to trace the snowflake designs on her Christmas wish lists to Santa, snowflakes have been blue. And Christmas was her favorite holiday of the year until she was eleven, when her mom banned the holiday because her deadbeat dad stopped paying child support.
“No money, no presents.” Her excuse.
But Rita still dreamt of blue snowflakes piling high in her front yard on Christmas morning—even though she grew up in southern Georgia, and the coldest temperatures she ever experienced were still in the upper 40s. When she peeked out of her bedroom window every Christmas, squeezed her eyes shut and wished for a foot or more of densely packed, blue snow—an hombre effect developing the deeper you went, from white on the top layer to an almost cobalt at the very bottom—she knew one day it would happen, all her letters to Santa would be answered. One day she would wake up to jingle bells, a front lawn covered in a blanket of blue, and her father standing on the porch, carrying a gift box, wrapped in red and gold paper, almost as big as he, with the oversized bow to match.
This was what Rita thought about as Hank’s head lay in her lap, his tongue in her flesh.
It wasn’t right. She didn’t want to take him home. Well, she did, but Renee’s voice in her head nagged her of her missed appointment with Jesus—prayer and fasting more important.
But he didn’t have a ride when the store closed—she the last customer to leave. It was too easy. And with an unannounced visit from Jerome still a possibility, she felt safer having Hank there.
Plus she needed someone to carry all the paint she bought. She couldn’t remember what colors she picked; she just grabbed the closet can and slug it in her basket, kept it moving.
Hank’s tongue fluttered inside her, like a swimmer kicking the water as he paddled down stream. She went loose, tensed up to hold it a second longer, went loose again.
Hank looked up. “You good?”
She pressed his head back down. Less talk, more . . . mmmm . . . She twirled her hips underneath him, rolled her eyes to the back of her head as he drank her up, slurped her as if finishing off the end of an icie, and when he hit that spot, she screamed, “Oh, god,” and then, “Jesus Christ,” and then, “Stop.”
It wasn’t right. But she still waited until she came before she finally pushed him off of her.
And she didn’t want him to leave, not yet. Not while her walls were still white. She crawled over to the paint cans lined up by her door, examined the labels. Merlot red? No, that color pallet was too close to hell. She figured when she died, she’d probably end up there anyway; she didn’t need the reminder. Canary yellow? Hell no. Not even if she had a cat. It made her think of the short story she read back in high school. If white was driving her crazy, yellow just might make her kill herself.
With a sigh—she probably should have put more thought into making her selections—she spun the third can around, tilted it back and looked at it under the white moonlight coming through her window.
Cerulean. Blue. Perfect.
“Let’s paint these walls,” she said, a chipperness in her voice.
“Why else do you think you’re here?”
He shook his head. Maybe to get blue balls. To tease him even more, Rita jumped at him, fell on top of him back on the bed. She sat up on his lap, felt him lift through his boxers. His hand trailed down to the pocket and pulled out what she’d been craving, so she could see it, so she could go ahead and sit on it. She wanted to. She really wanted to.
And she did. But first, they painted.
Her room is brighter this morning. Brighter even than when the walls were white. It reminds her of Christmas, and she can’t remember a Christmas when the sunlight didn’t fill her whole room back home, as it does right now.
The paint still smells. They probably shouldn’t have slept in it. But when she considers how much sleep they actually got, she thinks they’ll be ok. She looks up at the walls. Horny and half-naked, they still managed to coat them evenly, and they didn’t get a single drop on the floor. But that may be because they spread and entire box of black heavy duty trash bags over every inch of the plush white carpet.
Under the suns rays shinning through her window, her walls are the perfect snowflake blue she always imagined as a kid. If the paint is still wet, she’ll straighten out a paper clip, or maybe just use the tip of her fingernail, to carve in the skeletal snowflake designs, like on her wish lists to Santa.
On the floor, one trash bag is smeared with paint from end to end like the frantic brushstrokes of an improvisational painter receiving his dose of inspiration in that very moment. This was where they collapsed, after laying the final coating, and then finished each other off in the leftover blue paint poured from the can.
She can’t remember how exactly she ended up back in her bed, however.
She hears a swishing to her right, looks over to see the blue shadow of Hank’s body printed in the sheets next to her, and Hank standing by the window, his pants already on, buttoning his shirt.
“You’re leaving.” She says it more like a statement than a question. She should be used to this. What’s to stay for? He’s gotten what he was after, even though it took all night to get it.
He spins around, surprised, almost frightened, by her voice. Who else would it be? She wonders. This is her apartment.
“Oh, I didn’t want to wake you.”
He stands there, as if caught with his hand somewhere it shouldn’t be, not sure what to do or how to explain himself. His eyes shift from her to his shoes on the floor at the foot of her bed.
“Just go.” she closes her eyes. It would’ve been better if he’d left last night. Before the sun came in and brightened her day, filled her with a false hope that things would be different now, that she could be different. That her dreams as a child would finally come true, and it would snow on Christmas the color of the Disney castle in the opening credits of her favorite princess movies, and her prince charming would finally come, and stay forever.
“I’m sorry,” he stammers. “I just– I thought you would want–”
He rushes back to the bed, his shirt half unbuttoned, his skin hot when she touches his abdomen. It warms her through, and she leans in to kiss his navel, dip her tongue inside like it’s morning coffee and she’s testing the temperature. He sinks his hands into her hair, pulls her up, sticks his whole tongue in her mouth.
This is all she wants for this whole day. Him filling her every opening. She’s supposed to be meeting Tash and Renee for a dress fitting. How late is it? Is there enough time to slide him into her for a few minutes more? She’d promised Renee she wouldn’t be late, and she would help her set up for the rehearsal dinner afterward. But then, did Renee really expect Rita to keep her word?
Not when this man is giving her everything she thinks she needs.