Unmasking Ceremony

Topaz Winters

  I was twenty-one & looking for something to die for. The next day I met a UFO in a Dunkin’ Donuts on the road out of New York City. In line in front of me she ordered a strawberry-frosted donut. Beneath her nails was dirt the colour of American money. Wait. I was fourteen & writing my suicide note in ballpoint pen. My hand smudged against the blue ink &, for days after, I wore it on my wrist like a bruise. Outside the window of my fourth-floor apartment, honeysuckle vines grew wild. I was twenty-one &, on accident, alive. I was nineteen & at night I would sneak onto the roof, smoke cigarettes, wait to be taken or to grow a tumour in my lungs, whichever came first. No one actually cared that I was smoking cigarettes, but my shame ached larger than logic: I preferred to be grieved rather than forgotten. I was twenty-one when the UFO proposed three days after she came to earth. I said I haven’t even met your parents yet & she said babe, where we’re going we don’t need anybody’s approval. We got the marriage license in a drive-through courthouse, toasted to our love with Diet Dr. Pepper. She kissed me as though she could hear what hummed beneath my skin. I was twenty-one & buying real estate with a person without a birth certificate. My friends asked me where my new wife was from & I said um, Canada? I was sixteen & I knew the words to too many funeral dirges. I was eighteen & I still believed in God. I was nine when I started talking in question marks. I was twenty-one when I realised my sky was somebody’s dirt. I was human until I became something better. In the UFO’s language there was no word for love, so instead of I love you she said I am watching. I was twenty-one when my love language became surveillance cameras. Every time I entered a mall I looked up, smiled, & waved. The UFO kept a dozen blue pens with her at all times because it was the only thing I would write with. For my twenty-second birthday she gave me a rock from her planet which shone like it was admitting guilt.

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