Hannah Mamalis

Curses and Kisses

Having experienced the majority of her short life devoid of any semblance of feeling, Valentina spent her time watching her mother closely, to see if they were in fact related. Sometimes she’d think she’d caught something in the agitated flick of her ankle or the pinched way she sucked her lips in duress. But ultimately, her desperate trial to tread some trace of familiarity was in vain. A void existed too vast, too wrought with disappointment in a life that was never fulfilled, for Valentina to understand. One day when she came home from school to find the house empty, she knew that their paths had diverged for good. But as she hoisted herself up on the kitchen counter, nibbling thoughtfully on the end of a gherkin, something caught her eye. Sitting on the table was a blackish, lumpy rock her mother had once told her had fallen from the sky to curse their family and underneath it, a note that simply said, ‘I’m Sorry’.

Everyone in Valentina’s class knew that Jonathon Stubbs kept his scabs in a little wooden box. They knew that every day when he came in with a fresh cut it would be added to his queue of clotted clumps, grown, picked and stowed. His skin was a freckly field he wished could be fallow. Valentina found him one day behind the school sheds, bent in conspiracy. She watched as he took out his bits of curled flesh and laid them carefully on the ground. He granted each the same muttered, hated name and then one by one, he burned them, he watched them shrivel up and he cried. On that fateful day in her kitchen, as Valentina held the rock now insurmountably tied to her fate, she knew there was only one person who would know what to do.

Later that evening they stood in her back garden and took off their clothes. Jonathon took a litre of milk from of his bag and between them; they emptied its contents over their heads. Then he took the rock gently in his calloused hands, held it to his ear and closed his eyes. As the light caught his skin, it shone with the milky stains that covered his field of scars and she thought he looked beautiful. He placed the rock in front of her and told her they had to bury it, that that was the only way the curse could be broken. As they began to dig her tongue, framed by her lips caught a dribble of sticky milk as it streaked through her mulchy hair and he thought she looked mad. Their fingernails moved in tandem, a sacred scraping motion. Shallow breaths in a shallow grave as pulses quickened, work deepened, gaining ground and grit and gulping air until gasping suddenly, she stopped and withdrew a bleeding hand. They peered into the hole, finding the source of her injury to be the jagged femur of a long dead family pet. She laughed, it sounded odd colliding with the still air and he kissed her to save the silence. Fierce and lowered, they lay, new bones on old bones, forgetting.

Hannah is a small, often disorientated woman-child who occasionally acts and occasionally writes. The rest of her time is spent staring into the gaping, senseless void and being weird on twitter at @Hantmam.