Cassandra Atherton
Southern Kisses: A backyard in Slidell, Louisiana, 1982

It was the music he heard first. Something about smelling the moon in her perfume. It was barely audible over the clicking of the computer keys, but it intrigued him enough to stop typing mid-sentence and pull back the blind.

Meet me in the middle of the day
Let me hear you say, ‘Everything’s okay’
Bring me southern kisses from your room

Meet me in the middle of the night
Let me hear you say, ‘Everything’s alright’
Let me smell the moon in your perfume

Heart-shaped sunglasses in candy pink stared back at him from the lawn below. She was lying on her back eating strawberries dipped in chocolate. He could just make out the small smudge of chocolate at the corner of her mouth. She turned up the radio and reached for the novel lying beside her towel. The cover looked familiar. He leaned forward. It was a Penguin Classic. He couldn’t be sure but it looked like the author was Nabokov. She wriggled down the towel and tipped her head back into the sun. A tiny pink bikini with embroidered white daisies barely covered her firm breasts. The panties were cut high up her thighs and revealed a stomach still rounded with puppy fat. He inhaled deeply and went in search of his last Havana cigar.

When he returned she had rolled onto her front and was reaching back to undo the laces of her bikini top. He ran his nose along the length of his cigar and bit off the tip. Without looking up at him she said, ‘Hello, Oberon, can you come out and play today?’ She squeezed the thick cream into her palm and feigned attempts to apply it to her back. The more she tried, the further her bathers worked their way up her thighs.

He went back upstairs, relit his Havana cigar and opened a bottle of Courvoisier. He took a sip and spent the rest of the afternoon wondering what the moon smelt like.

© Cassandra Atherton. Cassandra is a Senior Lecturer in Literary Studies/Professional and Creative Writing at Deakin University, Australia. She has written a book of poetry, After Lolita (Ahadada Press, Tokyo and Toronto, 2010) and a novel, The Man Jar (Printed Matter Press, New York and Tokyo, 2010).