STORY ONE: TONGUES OF FIRE by @LastWordy
They were going to go to Venice. Not for a honeymoon; they were beyond such traditional notions as 'marriage' and the bourgeois need for a 'license' to prove their love. Theirs was unprovable. Undefinable. And what better place to celebrate than Carnevale?
She planned her dress with as much excitement as any spring bride. It had to be the perfect match for her Columbina-- traced with gold and feathered like tongues of fire -- and the perfect contrast to his silvery, blue and green two-faced Bauta--her own Janus, god of transition, master of beginnings.
The fabric was shimmering orange silk, the trim deep ivory lace with touches of brown silk ribbons. Orange for fire, lust, energy; ivory for not-quite-white-and-who-have-
believed-it-if-she'd-tried; brown for him, and his velvet eyes.
Everything was perfect and packed when she found the notes in his pocket (served her right for offering to pack for him, served him right for letting her). Less then five minutes on the computer later, she smashed her phone and left the slightly-bloodied pieces on top of it.
She took only one suitcase.
At the airport, she exchanged the ticket--bless his lying heart for full fare with insurance--for whatever flight was leaving next. At the Isla Mujeres airport, she bought three tiny bathing suits, a cheap black pushup bra with matching panties, two boxes of condoms, a bottle of hot cherry lubricant, beaded huaraches, a toothbrush, some sunscreen, and two lurid paperback novels. She handed the shared-account card to a family of seven on her way to the taxi. They spoke no English, but she was pretty sure they knew Mastercard.
She never did go back for her suitcase.
It was two days later and she was wearing a hat to shade her sunburned nose, in the kind of place where you were supposed to order beer in bottles or Evian with the safety seal intact. No ice. Or weird little green leaves floating in it.
Mint, she thought. Menta. She was on her third one, with no one to stop her. And if they made her sick later, if she puked up her guts and shit out her glory in a tourist-class beachside hotel room toilet, so be it. She’d hold her own goddamn hair, muchas gracias.
She'd found the bar after walking until her feet were chafed smooth by the sand. It had a straw roof and colored lights, and the smell of charred meat made her mouth water. She ate carne asada with salsa verde and something called huitlachoche. She'd pointed to a drink that looked interesting; it arrived in a glass the size of a fish bowl.
The waiter gave her two straws. She sipped lime, mint, and crunchy sugar through them both. The alcohol burned her tongue; the great round belly of the glass cooled her palm. She licked her lips, fully aware of the waiter, and the bartender, and the rumpled American businessmen two tables away.
Who needed a mask? She'd found her fire.