by Jules Archer
My sister returns with a plastic bottle shaped like a bullet. She sits next to me in our small blanket fort, curling her legs against mine. Her face is giddy, all teeth. I found this in dad’s dresser, she says. Raises it up high, like a torch alight. What do you think it is?
It’s his new girlfriend, is what I want to say but don’t. I take the bottle. It’s sticky and the label is faded, peeling. Inside, a purple sea sways. I pop the lid and dollop my finger. My sister giggles as I taste it. My mouth is filled with an oily syrup. I suck my thumb, make her wait. Then: Grape, I say. Like grape jelly.
Let me try, my sister says, her hands stretching greedily for the bottle. Ooo, it tastes yummy.
I wrinkle my nose. It’s gross.
When we first met our father’s girlfriend, Evelyn, she clacked her long nails and waved a hand at us like we were poolside waiters. She lounged on the pool chair. Bright sunlight danced across her bronze thighs. Her tan toes pointed as perfect as a plastic Barbie’s. Later that night, buried beneath the covers, I tried pointing my toes perfect like Evelyn. I wished for curves in strange places. But my feet cramped up and I had to cover my mouth to smother a whimper. I wondered how she did it. If she leaned in, aimed all her points at dad, and let her bleached blonde hair mushroom over his mouth like a cloud. If he couldn’t breathe, he’d never say.
My sister depresses the bottle cap. Tips it upside down and the liquid begins to squirm, to drip. I imagine Evelyn stuck inside the bottle. I can see her going down face-first, drowning in the purple gunk, her toes pointing perfect at the sky.
About the painter – Eric Sorensen is a medical student and artist who loves painting, drawing, and photography. After college he studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. Image: Painting, acrylic medium and fabric dye on canvas (2014), part of a series exploring the movement of translucent colors. Find more of his work at ericsorensen.com.