He leans against me and rests his head on my shoulder. I try to imagine that it’s just sticky tree sap smeared across his cheeks and shirt like when we’d swing from the gums out the front of Grandpa’s place. I try to imagine that he’s just a little sauced after a big win.

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Sugar Ant

The air quakes in the heat.An ant crawls across Lisa’s arm and Madeleine licks it up. It’s on her tongue, still moving, and then she swallows it, mostly because she remembers swallowing an ant when she was little, and wonders if the sweetness was real. Lisa is fucked on the sun and murmurs don’t before closing her eyes again.


At the shops that morning they’d had a fight about the health benefits of sourdough. Madeleine had stopped looking Lisa in the eye halfway down aisle three, where the air was plump with raisin wafts and yeast. She always looked away when they fought, and Lisa couldn’t handle it the way she used to.

Look at me Mad, you have to look at me or I’ll just go, I’ll just walk out, she’d said through tightened teeth.

Madeleine couldn’t look, never could once the air got tight. But she’d grabbed Lisa’s hand and chewed her lip and then they had kissed, because Lisa was just a little more in love with Madeleine than she should have been.

The ant isn’t sweet. It tastes like blood and grey-lead pencil and she can almost feel its ballooned body slide down her throat. Madeleine is lying on her belly with her elbows bent and her head held up in her hands. She looks around the park, for something. Beside her Lisa dozes, her nose quietly whistling.