Kathryn Holmstrom

Close-Up Glitter

We’re in the car, on the way to his house, he’s driving, and I’m thinking about killing him later. He’s not aware of that. And I really don’t plan on doing it, but it’s something I have considered. Something I haven’t had the courage to do. Have been wanting to do. I’m thinking about it. The car ride is silent and it gives me time to turn it over some more. It’s so quiet that I can hear him breathing. He’s kind of overweight. He scratches his nose with his left hand. He rubs his eyes beneath his glasses. I can hear him blinking, almost. The car ride is so silent that I’m becoming more okay with the idea that I’d like to braid his guts later. We get to his house and he clunks his Timberland’s onto the driveway. My heels are shitty and old and the screws are sticking out of the bottom where the tap has worn away. Click clack scratch, all the way up the steps to his backdoor. He turns the key in the lock and now we’re in the laundry room. His cat, Pearl, steps out of her litter box, looking very pleased with herself. She rubs herself furiously against his stupid Timberland’s and purrs loudly, like a tiny weed whacker trying to clip his leg hairs with her kitty cat hugs. “Pearly girl,” he says. She makes me smile. I look up at him while I’m still smiling. I see that he’s already looking at me and I stop. My eyes drop to the handle on the fridge door, and I walk over, put one hand on it. I look up at him again. “Can I have a cup of water?” “Yeah, sure.” He brings me a cup with snowflakes on it. It’s blue and plastic. It’s also July. “Thanks.” I pour deep from the Brita. Pearl meows. He goes into his bathroom and I think I can hear him peeing. Definitely peeing. I sit down at his kitchen table and rub my calves, which are sore from balancing on screws all night. I think about how it’s stupid that I’m here right now, that I’ve agreed to be here with him. I didn’t even agree actually. I pretty much asked. Maybe I even begged for it. We’d slept together a couple times before and I could tell he’d lost some interest. I thought if I could ignore him, treat him just as shitty, maybe I’d feel better, or something. If that’s how it works. So I made out with Melinda in front of him tonight at that offbeat little bar that he runs. I brought Melinda because she’s hot and fun and I thought she’d probably cheese him off the most. Melinda actually likes me, I thought, while I was cupping her tiny face in my hands by the toilets. She was drilling into me with an intensity that I wasn’t sure how to reciprocate. “Why the fuck haven’t we kissed yet?” I asked. She breathed. She smelled like sweat. She was drunk. She looked like pussy and my fingers got knotted in her dyed inky black hair. “I don’t know. You’re beautiful.” I could see him dancing with his friends in my peripheral. I wondered if she knew that. I smushed my lips against hers. It’s nice. Soft. Pillowy. Smushy. It’s okay. She tasted like the taco truck outside. I wonder if she ate there. Our mouths peeled apart and I took her little hands and I pulled her to the dance floor. Her long hair thwacked around on her face and hit people on their shoulders, backs of their heads, arms. She seemed unaware, brazen, and honestly she’s gorgeous. But I could see him in the corner of my eye. I could see that he was looking at me, and I sort of grinned then because I didn’t look back, and because I pulled Melinda close to me, by her little waist. We danced together like this and her tits jumped around when she did. I’m not a lesbian, I’m just an asshole. And my dumb plan worked, which makes me lose respect for everyone involved. Melinda was crying later when I left the bar to go home with him. It didn’t bother me that much, and that’s what makes me feel guilty. Right now, at his kitchen table, rubbing my calves, I’m thinking about how Melinda looked when she saw me talking to him by the dumpsters earlier, and him pulling out his keys, and me touching his arm. Her mascara hung like ropes down her cheeks, forming knots at the corners of her lips, tying up that frown against her perfect teeth. She cares so much. I still can’t feel anything. He tells me to go back into his room. I meander, stopping in the hallway to look at the picture of his dumb face smiling in his graduation cap on the wall. What the fuck am I doing here? I keep walking. I go in his room. Pearl’s been following me, meowing. She stretches, her furry rump bending toward the moon. She walks back and forth beside the bed where I’m sitting. She keeps meowing. Her eyes are made of glitter. Now I’m thinking about in elementary school, when you put a bunch of Elmer’s on construction paper and before it dries you dump a whole tube of that glitter on top. Then you take the paper and shake it, tapping the bottom of the page against the table, revealing your creation. That’s how I feel when I’m fucking him later, after he comes back into the room, after he’s just brushed his teeth, and after he scrapes off my clothes. I’m on top of him. Shaking. Up and down. Tapping. Shake. Shake. All the extra glitter falls off. I’m not sure what’s left. Whatever he’s drawn, probably. Whatever he glued. Whatever picture he painted and that’s me. Shake. Shake. I look down into his eyes and I don’t see very much. Up and down. Slapping. I’m tired. I want to roll off. I keep going anyway, and I still don’t see very much. What does he see? Tapping. I press my hands down onto his chest and I dig my nails into him. One of them breaks off but neither of us cares. I think about killing him again. Up and down. If my hands could just inch up toward his throat. Tap, tap. Instead I bite his ear. He moans or something. I bite his neck. Moans. Up and down. Pounding. I bite it harder. Really hard. “Fuck, what the fuck!” “Sorry,” I heave the word into his ear. Sorry. Shake. Shake. Tapping. I’m pretty sure all the glitter is gone. There can’t be any more left. He’s ruined the drawing by now. All the shaking, tapping, smacking. He shook the picture too much before the glue had dried. It’s drooling down, sliding toward the bottom of the page, and whatever he’d drawn is probably unrecognizable. I’m lost. Shaking, tapping, up and down and up. We’re fucking so fucking fast. The construction paper is all warped and wet and wavy and crinkled. I look at his eyes and they’re closed. I smush my lips onto his. It’s nothing like Melinda. We’re quaking now, shaking. So fast. He doesn’t kiss back. A tremor runs through him. He shoves me off and puts his dick in his hand. I’m shivering now. My heart taps. He cums on my stomach and lays his damp, bespectacled face on my arm. I’m a gluey mess. He throws a towel at me, the cat meows, my calves hurt, the sun’s come up. I don’t see any glitter. I know why I’m here.


Kathryn Holmstrom is a Houston native and an undergraduate senior studying Creative Writing at the University of Houston. She has attended the Tinhouse Writer's Workshop, both in 2012 and 2013, attends and participates in open mic readings around Houston, and interns for the monthly reading series Poison Pen. This is her first publication.