SEX FOR POETS - 08 - RASPBERRY
a rough draft, released chapter by chapter
WARNING: EXPLICIT CONTENT
Reader discretion is advised for scenes of unique and creative sexuality, pervasive lewd imagery and language, and down the line, scenes of violence that may be offensive to some readers. If you have delicate sensibilities, best move along.
CHAPTER 8: RASPBERRY
1 week after the festival
Doc sounds like he’s speaking through a tunnel.
“Clara, please say something.”
A long tunnel. A tube like a folding fan. And his words are water, cresting over each ledge inside the tunnel before flowing into the next.
“Do you need me to call somebody?”
Louder, then softer. A furry, breathing animal of sound slinking across tiny peaks and valleys.
Clara sits up. “Doc?”
“You’re scaring me, Clara. I’m glad you made your appointment. I was worried when you didn’t show last week.”
“Last week,” she confirms. “Yes, I was preparing for the Festival. I meant to call.”
“No harm done. You’re a busy woman this time of year.” The therapist closes his notebook and places it on his lap. “How’d you make out?”
“The festival,” he says. “I’m, sorry I missed it. I was called out of town last minute. Did the Collective do well?”
“The Collective,” she repeats.
“Clara, look at me. Your pupils are huge. Have you taken anything?”
She shakes her head.
“How are you feeling? Are you warm? Any issues with your breathing?”
When Clara smiles, she can tell it’s crooked. Like her lips are sliding right off her face. “I’m fine, Doc. Promise.”
“You’re swaying. Do you need to lie down?”
“I’m awake,” she says. “Very, very awake.”
“That’s a good start,” the therapist offers.
And Clara says, “Yes.”
The therapist reclines once more. “Tell me about the festival. You’re my first patient since returning to the city. I want to hear all about it.”
Doc is sincere. He’s grinning and beaming at her, waiting to hear all about the exciting events of the Morality Jamboree Festival. As if this year were like any other. He wants to hear about the parade, the floats, the street performers and the art walk.
“You haven’t heard,” she states.
The therapist raises an eyebrow.
“Something happened this year, Doc. An unravelling.”
“You don’t see it? It’s plain as day. They were right. Weightlessness and honesty. It’s all so clear now.”
“Clara, you’re speaking in riddles. This is a safe space. Just tell me what’s on your mind.”
Clara’s mind is blank. But Doc wants to talk. So she lets her thoughts flow undisturbed until they land, grasping at a passing idea as though with claws and talons. It’s an unexpected thought, but it’s all-consuming, and Clara is back in that tunnel again. Her own contemplations like water cresting. A furry, slinky animal worming through her brain.
“Do you ever hear in color, Doc?”
“I don’t follow.”
“It’s just now occurred to me that I’ve surrounded myself with women whose names are red or pink.”
“Your friends are named Red and Pink?”
Clara giggles to herself, staring into the weave of the rug. The colors distort, as though sprouting their own unique threads beneath her watchful gaze.
“Not literally,” she says. “But words have color associations, don’t they? I’ve only just realized it myself. My best friend? Well, she was my best friend. Before the festival.” Clara feels a shadow pass over her gaze. Doc sees it, too. “Her name is Dahlia, and when I thought of her just now, it was as if those letters, strung together in that particular way, have an aura of their own. And I see the color. It’s so distinct.”
Clara looks up, but the therapist only stares forward, his face devoid of expression. She must be talking nonsense. Or maybe he’s still evaluating the diameter of her pupils.
“It’s raspberry,” she offers, a most obvious declaration. “You see it, right? Dahlia. A sharp pink that fades to a near purple near the edges.” She says it again, this time in a whisper, as though calling the woman back to her. “Dahlia. And Johanna. It’s similar to raspberry, with more purple. But a warm purple, rather than cool. And Laurel. Laurel is red with a hint of orange.” She bites her lip, picking apart the hue in her mind. “But not coral, exactly,” she says. “No, Laurel is much more vibrant, like the center of a flame. Do you see it, Doc?”
Doc must have changed his mind about the closed notebook, because he plucks it from his lap, turns to a page and begins writing.
“That’s called Synethesia, Clara. It’s caused when the brain combines two or more unrelated senses. Some people may see a shape and taste, say, vanilla. For others, they hear a word and the brain assigns that word a color. Have you experienced this before?” he asks, flipping through past notes. “You’ve never mentioned it.”
Clara rocks forward. “I want to taste a shape, Doc. Can you teach me? Can you taste a word?”
The therapist looks around his office. “When I say the word pen, do you taste anything? What about table or hat?”
Clara licks her licks, pushes her tongue against the inside of her cheeks, the roof of her mouth, seeking the hint of something, anything. “No,” she says, “but I’ll keep trying.”
“What on earth is going on with you, Clara?”
“Every name has a color, Doc. I’ve just never noticed until now.”
“Does your grandfather’s name have a color?” the therapist asks.
“His name is Arden, so that would be yellow. And my grandmother’s name is Charlotte. That’s a dark, cold purple.”
“And what about my name?” he asks.
“What’s your name?”
The therapist sighs. “It’s David, Clara.”
“David,” she repeats. “That’s right. David is blue. Light blue, like the sky. No hint of teal, either. Or any other color. You’re a straight solid baby blue.”
“Because I’m a man?”
“Don’t be so pedestrian, Doc.”
The therapist laughs. “This is a different side of you, Clara. I’ve never heard you speak of such abstract things before.”
“Everything looks different, smells different, tastes different. Like I’m tuned in to a different frequency. And I’m not the only one. Everyone’s different now. Our entire society has been reborn. You’ll see. We’ve been living inside a hurricane our whole lives and have only just found the eye.”
The therapist frowns, his lower lip pushing to one side. “The eye of the hurricane is only a reprieve from the storm, Clara. To use that metaphor means that you are still surrounded by chaos. You may have tricked yourself into seeing a reprieve, like a mirage, but you haven’t found your way out of the storm just yet. Only a temporary moment of clarity.”
Clara leans backward to stare at the ceiling, buoyant and untroubled by his unenlightened opinion.
“Don’t worry, Doc,” she says, '“everyone finds the eye at their own pace. And you’ll find it, too, one way or another. It’s inevitable now.”
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