Synesthesia by Heidi Turner10 Nov 2017, Posted by Short Fiction in
Sex, drugs, and Rock-and- Roll are all the same.
Modest Mouse was playing when I passed Simeon the blunt, a perfect little burrito of a universe. Before the hit, little rainbows danced around the edge of my vision, pirouetting across Bob Marley and the fifty-seven vinyl records Simeon kept on his white shelf. I poured myself a sippy cup of wine and laughed “Dashboard” is the same color as white wine in a red cup for a two-year- old, a committed red, but not as red as a Lego or Iron Man’s inner thighs. The universe-burrito came back to me and I was wrapped up in reddish mist. The clouds became shapes; a hundred cardinals flew around my head. Eeyore—you know, the nail-assed donkey—sat down mid-air.
“Hey! Hey! What does my voice look like?” Justice, the only high tenor in show choir, punched my
“It looks like the hundred-acre- wood,” I lied. Eeyore shook his head.
Justice laughed, summoning Barney the Dinosaur in a cowboy hat for an instant, “I’m a cartoon
forest? Fuck yeah! What about Sim?”
I would have sobered up, but Simeon blushed and I remembered him naked.
It happened the summer after sophomore year, when Simeon and Austin weren’t speaking, back when Sim was pretending he liked being sober for his parents and getting drunk with me every night. Every night was a blur of red car hoods and that dim orang-y light by the harbor. They left the lights on all night, wasting power and giving a few creepers an excuse to hang around, hoping some kids would get horny and leave the windows down.
That wasn’t really our thing. It was the middle of July when we started smoking on the beaches with
all the other stoners and I realized that I could see more than just colors. If we went hard enough and spent a few minutes getting in touch with whatever shit is behind the atoms, I could see everything. Trees grew out of people’s mouths; everyone was like that drawing on the Beatles linear art, “just passing through.” After a few bottles of wine and tequila had been passed around, some of us would go skinny dipping in the sea. It was dim-lit, and back then, we just wanted to recreate Woodstock. The first time I saw Simeon’s chest, he saw most of mine. I was on his shoulders, chicken-fighting against Brandon and his girlfriend. That was that whole summer, me on top of him, the waves washing over me when I fell.
One Wednesday at Simeon’s house, we were leaning up against the stair railing on his back porch. We had two Dr. Peppers. Just Dr. Peppers. No booze, and no weed. We were listening to The White Album. Little shimmering curls of blue and purple wove around my eyes and his face.
“You know why Austin and I broke up?”
“Not my business.” I said, sipping my drink.
“Jax,” His voice was white and blue woven together, like the Jewish flag underwater, “don’t be lame. I’m having feels.”
“Shoot.” I tore apart a fallen leaf.
“I’m… well… I’m bi,” his cheeks turned red.
“And he couldn’t deal. He was convinced I’d just been experimenting.”
“Not with… with him. He was my first love. I’ve never even been with a girl. I just… I know me.” I realized his eyes and voice were the same color.
I put my bare foot on his far shoulder. “It doesn’t make a difference to me. It’ll always be you and me, Spock.”
He rubbed his face against the top of my foot, “Thanks, Jax.”
I nuzzled against him and he wrapped his arm around me. It was like that back then, all the time, back when I thought he was gay, back when it didn’t matter. And it’s still like that, as often as I’m willing to
drown a little.
“You’ve never been with a girl?”
“Not yet.” Little foamy-white speckles crowded my vision and blocked out the shadowed trees.
“That’s bass akwards.”
“Whatever, Jax.” God, it wasn’t fair that, whatever his voice sounded like, it looked like the sky. He was full of stars.
I kissed him and his eyes widened for a second. “Want to get that off the bucket list?”
He laughed, but he also pulled me onto his lap.
That night, we laid naked on his bed, speaking in peaceful fragments. He kissed my hair like he had at least seven hundred and eighty-six times.
I grabbed the baseball from his nightstand and watched it float through the orange-brown mire of The Clash. “Of course.”
That was the one time foamy waves had surrounded us sober. I’m not one to put meaning on stuff—Eeyore is Eeyore, and the ocean is the ocean. Even so, he was a drug like all the others, something that made me see.
I took another long drag of the joint and didn’t look up for a few seconds. Simeon was real, even in the water. He was real enough that I had wanted to dive into him without a mask, and I did, and it was beautiful, and I was the same person as my best friend for a few minutes. Even with Justice right there, I wanted to dive back underwater with the sharks and without my tampon in.
“Come on, is it something embarrassing? Is your voice a thousand dicks?” Justice’s eyebrows arched
and Eeyore shook his head.
“Man, even I don’t know,” Simeon said, laughing. He stroked the side of my face, twisting his torso like Tyra Banks and spilling a few drops of wine through the see-through sharks above my lap. “Don’t worry babe, it can be your little secret,” he winked; a shark bit me. Simeon kissed Justice’s cheek, spilling more wine.
Justice wiped the kiss off, but he was sippy-cup red. “I bet it looks like the fuckin’ desert.”
I laughed, and still, the sea was winning.
About the author:
Heidi Turner is a writer and musician from Maui, Hawaii who enjoys both tea and coffee in almost equal measure. She earned a Master’s degree in English from Azusa Pacific University. Her work has been published in Linden Avenue Literary Journal and Gravel Magazine.
Art: Michael Marrella, @mikemarrella
In the artist’s words:
Michael Marrella is a visual artist from New Jersey. His work deals with frustrations and anxieties within everyday life. He uses painting to push these personal boundaries and develop autobiographic works. “My studio practice develops through process and experimentation. I make paintings one on top of the other, creating a product out of an accumulation of daily work. Painting and drawing provides a vehicle to feel, refining the connection of mind and body through physical and visual means. It is a sensual and intimate act that serves as a detox, clearing restrictions from my mind and enhancing my experience as a human being. My paintings are a conflation of indecisions, mistakes, impulsive acts and failures. The process continues until there is cohesion of the colors and layers. I know a painting is done when everything becomes quiet.”