Latest Flash

The Vortex

"Hang up the chick habit. 

Hang it up, daddy, or you'll never get another fix."

The Vortex by Yesenia Berrios




He was a safe place away from the scorched earth and tungsten street lights. I sauntered into his studio apartment at a quarter to nine. I'd been there dozens of times before. The furniture was scarce but the floor cozy.

Our conversation was a stream of consciousness that poured slowly like the Cuba Libres down our throats. The flirtation burned evenly on both ends, in puffs of smoke from my joints and his cigarettes.

At two in the morning, my eyes watered and my stomach cramped from laughing. God damn was that motherfucker charming. He had a deluded self-confidence that lured me in; handsome if you love him but unassuming if you don't. I found myself, as I often did, somewhere in the middle. I had to get home before infatuation set in.

"Driving is out of the question," he said.

I nodded in agreement. How sweet he was for wanting me to stay.

I really had to get home. 

It's a special kind of desperation when your abuser is someone you could have loved. It feels unreal, as if looking at the world through the chlorine-filtered aquamarine of a pool as you drown. It is equal parts beautiful and terrifying. With every exasperated breath my fear grew stronger. God, this is too far.

“I’m serious,” I said. “I need to get home.”

His breath wafted onto my neck like hot steam out of a sewer grate. I felt dread tingle through my limbs and between my legs.

"Will you fucking STOP?" I moaned, angling my hips away from his and pushing my palms into his chest until they were white from the pressure.

He smiled sheepishly. “Oh, please.”

I dug my nails in, branding his face with crescent moons until he bled. As I pleaded with him, I felt the bile in my throat and the rum sloshing around in my stomach. He continued, impervious. Maybe the moans were indistinguishable from anguish. Maybe the tears turned him on. 

Weak from the heat and lactic acid burning in my muscles, I surrendered. A blurry dot in the middle of the ceiling widened and enveloped the room. Spinning, confused, and nauseous, I imagined it didn't happen this way. I went to a cooler place where I wanted him, begged him, to fuck me. I needed to feel something more, anything more, than tired. Then I noticed his stare. The words he seemed not to hear flashed across his brown eyes. He knew. He just didn’t want to know. 


***

A Sunday just before sunrise. A Miami summer like any other: eighty-four degrees and humid. The fire has been trapped inside for thirty days. In this city where the heat makes people crazy, desire runs rampant.

It looks like something out of a science-fiction film. The sky is an eerie ombré of purple and indigo against the cityscape. Hearing, let alone seeing, another flesh and blood human feels like making contact with an extra-terrestrial but I know exactly where to go nowadays.

I strut past him. I can spot the creeps and violators with little effort now. Time does a lot to a girl’s gait. Once a month, I remember that night seven years ago and rescue that girl. I cradle her against my chest in that golden hour between sleep and wakefulness.

They only atone when they’ve been outwitted, when panic swallows their eyes. By then, ego disappears but my palms are already white from the grip.

The first swing is always the most satisfying. I give it all I've got. I remember that night, when I first reached for that glimmer of hollow aluminum in my periphery. That silvery white bat that saved me when I was moments away from being permanently hollow myself. Nowadays, it feels more like a club.

A faint mist covers my chest, dampening my skin, luxurious as rose essentielle. If only I could find a lipstick shade so perfect, unicorn’s blood maybe.

"You're fucking crazy," he gurgles through the frothy blood bubbling at the corners of his mouth.

The sky changes colors like a mood ring on a cold finger.

I’m invigorated by the heat, lactic acid burns in my muscles, my stomach is warm like the comfort from a cup of cocoa. Was I crazy?

I was once intimately familiar with dread. I recognized it in his brown eyes.

Oh, sweet, sweet boy, this isn’t crazy.

"Please, no lectures," I sigh, pressing a finger lovingly over his lips.

I wind up. On the second swing, his yells are deafening. I watch intently as steam from the sewer distorts his face. 

Every swing thereafter could be the first. Screaming has made him hoarse and inaudible. The only sign he still yells are the veins tattooed over his throat, bulging upward and into his skull. No one is listening. No one who would help anyway. 

 I part his hair and my breath on his neck. "You didn't mean to,” I whisper. “You’re sorry."

Respite cutting through the air, I hear the warm familiarity of sonic boom as bat connects with skull fragments. I feel the warm familiarity in my pussy. The heat of which emanates toward my fingertips. 

His lecture stops and plasma oozes like slick garnet out of his ears. Only now do I notice the pounding in my chest, and feel it in my throat.

For the briefest window, I thaw. The rage floats to the surface, dissipating across my wet skin. I bask in the mist of blood and sweat.

I surrender.

The mermaid song of sirens wails in the distance, faintly chiming in my ears. I knew they weren't coming for me.

They never did.


Yesenia Berrios is a Nicamericana named after a movie and telenovela gypsy. She works full-time as an Education Director in Miami, Florida where she encourages kids to stay weird and question the status quo. On weekends, she devotes her time to her side hustle MyXXFLY.com where she styles, models, and sells thrift-store clothing. Yesenia runs on creativity, curry mustard, and dreams of revolution.