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As if a door has been opened

As if a door has been opened

by Tara Isabel Zambrano

Rangrez, the dyer, paints my body deep blue, like a summer night, to let the evil out, an alien girl under my skin who has slept with a lot of men. “The heat inside your body has blown you off course,” he says and starts with a fresh coat of paint. I shiver and scan the room, searching for a warm place. Then I fixate my gaze where sunlight is drilling a hole in the wall.

He reaches the soft skin behind my knees and uses his fingers instead of a brush. His breath strokes the hair on my thighs. Out the window, the houses look like distant neighbors watching us. I think of his wife and children, see their faces in his. The smell of the paint on his hands draws me closer.

When he touches my underarms, I bite my lip and imagine rolling in colors: indigo and crimson, carmine and ochre, painting each other’s body with our names. I forget about my life in the city, the concrete running for miles, rising to divide the horizon. I try to recall the faces of my lovers, their asses stuck between my thighs, their shadows flickering in my dim-lit studio. I feel the heat in my cheeks, the quickening breath. It’s impossible to be someone else than who I am. I’m a sex-crazed devil. I’m a train in search of a wreck. The skin around the neck is pinched and nervous, he tells me to relax.

I collect my breath. The paint stains my skin, covers the paranoia flowing over my bones. His hand slips to my navel, rests there for a moment longer as if making a connection with my insides. There is a rush of saliva in my mouth. From the window, the sunlight splinters and casts golden rectangles on the floor. He tosses his hair back, away from his eyes as if a door has been opened. I imagine brown-eyed babies with him and let his fingers slide in between my thighs. But he isn’t distracted; he carefully traces the curves and lines, the tip of his tongue showing between his teeth.

I’m dreaming of him while he’s here. I’ll dream of him when he’s gone.

Dusk falls slowly. When I emerge from my dreams, he is collecting his things. There is a stoop in his voice when he instructs me to wash my body at dawn. The indigo on my body is capturing light and whispering a language I don’t understand. I see my skin peeling away, clustered blue kernels scribing in air like unfinished sentences. My body drips with memories. The door is yanked open. I pull air into my lungs and start talking to an empty room. I imagine a life without loving my body so much. I imagine a life without waiting to be saved.


Tara Isabel Zambrano works as a semiconductor chip designer in a startup. Her work has been published in Tin House Online, The Cincinnati Review, Slice, Bat City Review, Yemassee, The Minnesota Review and others. She is Assistant Flash Fiction Editor at and reads prose for The Common.Tara moved from India to the United States two decades ago and holds an instrument rating for single engine aircraft. She lives in Texas.

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