Yellow Teeth

I am haunted, intoxicated, obsessed by these moments. The color green, opaque water, the distant sun, warm wine, red convertibles, flowers not ready to bloom, cows ready to tip over, ordering all the candy off the train trolley. We sat for hours by your mother’s pool and watched each other’s hair turn blonde.

“It’s not bad for you every once in a while.” You grinned, pressing on my blushing chest, watching the white blotches dissipate. You were boyish, licking the dripping ice cream off your wrist, but not embarrassed when you missed chunks of chocolate and they splattered on your trunks. “Hungry?” You winked. My stomach twisted, sheepish in front of the birds, but not enough to stop me from licking the mess off your thighs. Before we met, I spent a lifetime devoted to you.

I remember summers on my friend’s bedroom floor clutching notebooks filled with cutouts of 90’s supermodels. We practiced waxing each other’s legs and got yelled at by her mother when the microwave was still exuding goo weeks later. I grew my hair long to my ass and carefully watched my sister tie it up effortlessly with spotted bandannas. “Yellow is your color” she told me, and for years I wore it diligently.

I bought a yellow chair to tan topless on. It was shaped like a butterfly. You were worried the neighbors would see. You started waxing your surfboard in front of me. “It’s normal in Europe.” I said but you weren’t interested in Europe. I tore out cutouts from old notebooks and plastered them on our bathroom walls. Headless models with thin necks and fluffy skirts watched me as I peed. You led me back to our bedroom. My body freshly tanned, so hot from hours in the sun, it burned when you touched me. Our sheets smelled like dust and incense and I kept my eyes closed while you shut the door. You let me stay like that and I tried to memorize the sound of your movements while you practiced guitar and mopped the floors.

When I woke up, my body was cold and pale and my chair rusted by weather. I bought flowers to distract you and more bowls from Chinatown decorated with crabs, like when we first moved in. You scrolled through photos of girls with yellow hair who know how to play guitar and threw away tulips without asking.

“Everyone thinks they’ll know someone forever, and then they don't.” You told me in the ice cream aisle of the grocery store. I wanted to be somewhere more beautiful. For no good reason, I rearranged our bedroom. I ate peanut butter and apples on the floor of my closet and waited for you to change your mind. Your teeth turned yellow from smoking.

I moved out. I tried a cigarette but my teeth stayed white. I cried on the concrete until my friends brought blankets and flowers. We waited for their purple petals to drip heavy on the floor before taping them on my bathroom wall. They looked like little bouquets. I took photos of my shadow holding them up and wrote, “Aren’t these flowers beautiful?” And reread it until I believed it. Now it’s framed above the toilet and I hate yellow.

Talulah Brown is a writer based in Los Angeles.
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