By Niko Magnussen

That transient time before twilight in the summer when shredded cattail strands, spiraling globes of dust, the scantily clad, and even the tick-swollen town mutt shine pink–that’s when it happened. The weatherbeaten back alley, the one behind McGregor’s Market, was swathed in a feverish glow. Pink bricks. Pink sneaker scuffing. Pink Tim arm-deep in a busted metal trash can, refulgent in the setting sun. 

Somewhere beyond the slit of blank sky that marked the alleyway entrance and the corrugated sidewalk, cars were whipping around street corners and hooligans’ cries were creeping up like cricket song. But night had yet to entrance the masses. We’d be long gone before then, Tim and I, because he’d finally quit clanging away inside that can. He strode towards where I sat squinting on a milk crate, and presented his prized find. 

A pink-glowing gold condom foil, perfectly intact. 

And him, smirking in his sunburnt glory, until the sky casted a spontaneous blue shadow across his slender face. Ho! I dipped my hand in the alley’s shadows. I stared at my graying fingertips and beyond them, his sandaled feet. I stood. Then he crumpled into a twitching mound against the wall quicker than a smashed fly. The clouds passed. Shed their shadows. 

His cheeks were still pink as a nectarine and I remembered all the days we had cajoled around the lake, alternating between sucking face–what was to be expected of trailer trash like us–and reading Faulkner to the reeds. 

I patted the paperback in my pocket and walked into the muted twilight. The condom had been knocked somewhere out of sight, along the border between pink and blue. 

About the author

Niko Magnussen is a queer Asian American aspiring poet and writer from California. He is currently studying undergraduate Psychology and is often found behind the counter at a fast food restaurant. His previous work has been published in Poets Choice and forthcoming publications.

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