Delicate Animals
TAKE on art|July - December 2017

The humidity is sabotage and my skin is undone. I’ve always had a preference for dryness. While other women fear wrinkles, I never mind the beginnings of a crease. They seem cleaner, those intersecting lines. But then I’ve never been afraid of getting older, of being an abstraction.

Avni Doshi

When my aesthetician prods at my face, she remarks on the lack of hydration. I suspect she’s an idiot. Everyone knows water wants nothing to do with oil. With a paintbrush she covers my face in a cold, white liquid. I feel a nibbling on the epidermis. Enzymes, she says, like the ones in your stomach.

At lunch my face is a red blot but Baal pretends not to notice. She is wearing python dyed like a mermaid’s tail. I tell her she reminds me of a turquoise mosque I was refused entry to on a holiday in Fes. Smiling, she taps on her menu. She is intransigent about cuticles and the time she eats lunch. Intermittent fasting, she says. The body has a chance to detox every night for eighteen hours. I’m trying to rebuild my microbiome.

She dips the spongy middle of her bread in tapenade and chews for eighteen seconds before swallowing.

When she asks about what I’ve been up to I tell her my dog died last week. Her eyes widen and her lower lip protrudes. The color of her lipstick is the same as the inside of her mouth. I wonder if she has done this on purpose, matched the outside with inside so people will always be thinking of the inside, even when it can’t be seen.

How did he die? She drank too much laundry liquid.

Baal frowns and her forehead becomes a sheet of musical scales. It doesn’t sound possible. Animals are smarter than that.

I have made segments of my fish and don’t feel like eating it anymore. She didn’t see the laundry liquid. It spilled on the ground in a golden puddle, spreading slow like honey.

I want to change the subject. How’s Sheb, I ask, hoping the story will be long.

Baal’s nose is poreless and her eyes are full of certainty. She tells me her husband Sheb bought a new car and that their marriage is over.

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