SHRAPNEL

You insisted our first date be held at a certain time of the year. Moon cycles, tides rising and falling—everything had to be perfect. You had that face—that body—so I let you make me wait. You wouldn’t talk to me until you’d done your calculations, boiling up herbs and strange powders with animals on the labels you made me buy from corner shops in dangerous neighbourhoods. I caught a bullet one night coming out of a back room apothecary. I was told later, by a duty nurse, that I’d worn the wrong coloured trousers. I called you from the hospital, asked you if all this fuss was really necessary. And then you said, For you it is, yes, and suddenly the pain in my left buttock where the bullet had entered went away, as if by magic.

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