Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two December 2022.
So long, diva! And thanks for the kiss!, flash fiction by Vasilis Manousakis.
So long, diva! And thanks for the kiss!
My dear friends,
One cigarette before I go, I heard her stimulating voice ringing in my ears as I lay crammed in the pack. I made a dance move, like a constipated rapper, but that would do for the time being. The others did not move, they couldn’t care less, but me I cared. I don’t know why. Maybe it was that I heard stories about her from other packs stacked alongside mine in the newsagent’s. The two hump Camels, the Silkiest of Cuts and even the unscrupulous Drum, all of them were humming about her beauty, her style, the way she held you, the way she put you in her mouth. She is the source of life in the universe, I heard one day my uncle Reg Marlb saying from inside his soft pack, where he had retreated for years, for nobody would buy him. She is certainly my source of life, or that’s how I feel now that I am getting ready to meet her breath.
I was jumpy when her burgundy nails appeared and her long thin fingers started searching the pack for one of us. Pick me, pick me, I was nonsensically yelling, as if a woman like that needs prompting to do so. I looked at her green eyes focusing on me and realized that a woman like that is your destiny. If she picks you, it is because you were chosen or the chosen one, not because you were wriggling or dancing or jumping up and down. That wouldn’t move her. If it is you, it is only you.
With her warm fingers clasped softly around me and her nail polish that made me think that blood was dripping from my heart, the day that really changed my life came. I saw her butterfly lighter approaching me and I felt a sense of exhilaration rushing through me. I was hanging from the lips of the source of life, I participated in her pleasure, I was even assisting her think what she would do next. She controlled lives, she definitely controlled me. I closed my eyes to feel her inhale me. I was smoking myself, clouding her judgment, or so I thought. She opened the car window and hung me outside.
The man beside her wasn’t smoking. She did it for him despite the cold that was freezing my butt outside. She must love him, I thought, and a sting of jealousy made my tip almost feel snubbed. When she pulled me inside to take one more puff of me in her luscious lips, I was able to see what he was doing. He was observing her. He was loving her with all his might. He was giving her space to smoke me. I loved him immediately for letting me experience what my friends had never dreamed of.
One, two puffs and I was growing shorter, smaller. I felt no pain. I was only watching her lips as she drew the smoke in to cloud my own thoughts. From the man to my mistress, to the window, to myself disappearing, there was no distance. I felt nothing but peace, nothing but ecstasy being smoked by the lady of light. I remember I was dying between her lips, feeling as if she lit me up with her eyes.
Yes, I sound as if I am in love, but no, I am not. How can I be in love with my murderess?
As my ashes are being vacuumed from the floor of the car now, I see her one last time. She reminded me why I became a cigarette back in the factory. I was telling the other folks there that I was destined to be smoked by a blonde diva. Well, here I am beneath her black toe nails, waiting to be reborn like Phoenix.
So long, diva! And thanks for the kiss! See ya…
The Wings of Desire
“We’re going to be late!” her melodious voice woke him up from his daydreaming. “Get dressed! The show starts at 21:00. We’ re going to miss it!” It was the 50th anniversary of the Wings of Desire, the day the most envied angel fell on earth. They would go to an independent cinema to watch it, as they have been doing for the past 15 years without fail. He wanted to go. It was before he met her that this movie already meant a lot to him. Nick Cave singing about a girl on stage in the middle of the movie. From her to eternity, just like I told her the first time I told her I love her. Crime and the City Solution lamenting a love affair. The angels listening to our thoughts.
Bruno Ganz, dead now, becoming the most human character ever portrayed on screen. There was nothing not to like in this movie. She felt the same and that was a quite a relief. So, they would go tonight. They would perform the ritual as well, as agreed. He would dress like the angel and she would dress like the protagonist he falls in love with. They would listen to Nick Cave on their way there and they would replay the original soundtrack for exactly two days non-stop, just like they did when they first watched the movie together. And they would make love at the sound of Cave’s words. On repeat, their union and the song.
She was a delicate creature. Looked fragile, but had an inner power, a flame that burned ceaselessly. He was not as delicate as her. They shared the flame, though. But what he loved most about her was that she could transform into anything she wanted, like an actress. It was no surprise, then, that she looked exactly as if she popped out of the movie, when she came out of the bathroom. An erotic desire ceased him. He wanted sex, but she didn’t let him. “Later,” she said, “we are late already now.” And she opened the door.
The ritual drove them there and when they reached the cinema hundreds were waiting dressed like angels or like the protagonist. In this crowd, he could see that she clearly was an angel. In a few minutes, the movie started and he couldn’t help but stare at her. He knew the dialogues by heart anyway, so there was no point looking at the screen. She was looking at the screen and her eyes flickered with excitement. He could tell she was replaying the dialogues in her head and was singing the lyrics. And that made him stare more intensely. She knew, but didn’t bother. This way of expressing his love for her now excited her. Let him stare, she thought. I love him too. “I know,” he whispered. “I want to write a story about a girl. You are the girl.”
It was at that moment she realized he was always dressed like an angel and her desire grew.
© Vasilis Manousakis
Vasilis Manousakis, short-story writer, poet and translator, has published in New American Writing, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Barcelona Ink, Parentheses and Drunken Boat among others. He writes reviews and translates poetry and short stories for literary magazines and e-zines. He is a founding member of Bonsai Stories, the blog connected to Planodion literary magazine, dedicated to Flash Fiction from well-known writers from Greece, the United States and other countries. He holds a Ph.D. in Contemporary American Poetry and currently teaches Creative Writing, Modern Poetry, Short Fiction and Literary Translation at the Hellenic American College, Athens, Greece. His focus on the human thought and behavior in his writings has led him to a Master’s Program in Mental Health Counselling and he holds individual and group sessions with clients, specialising in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.