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Hey Lisa I Hope You Like

Story by Sara Hills (Read author interview) December 18, 2023

Art by Bruno Guerrero

For one night only, we dare the wildness of Evan’s room and smoke the last of his weed while listening to Bob Marley and the Wailers’ Uprising on repeat, my head against the speaker, Sam’s head on my shoulder, both of us hugging our knees, sitting shoeboxed until I tap out the spent ash and wipe my eyes, say that my dick of a brother is probably still in here somewhere and sift through the clink of Evan’s bottle cap collection, mostly pop and imported beers, unfolding and refolding notes from random girls, studying mixtapes Evan recorded but never gave, one marked for Emily and another to Lisa, the hopeful lines of Evan’s handwriting, all his unfinished business, the tooth-marked stubs of pencils, balled socks under his bed, a keychain of the Empire State Building, a keychain of a comet, an unused condom in his bedside table, a baseball missing stitches, a small black comb, and how did I never realize reggae was so good before, or that Evan had dandruff, or was in love? And I try to explain about the weight of his hand on my shoulder and the harsh pulse of the music between his room and mine, and I try to explain how everything I thought I knew about Evan was unfolding and say if only I could go back, if time and Evan could go back, and Sam squeezes my hand and Bob asks about love and I ask if it’s possible to live multiple lives in one, to feel too big for a space and somehow still small, hollow as straw, to walk around with insides unzipped, and doesn’t this room still whiff of Evan, a nebula of deodorant and sweat and weed, some texture we can’t touch? So we light up his pipe and inhale-inhale-inhale, breathe like we’re breathing in Evan, the wildness of him, his unfinished business, his daring and dreams, the dent in his pillow, and how good is this song, I say, imagining Evan finally sharing his music with a mixtape girl, some Emily or Lisa, the unspent condom finding its mark, the stickered outlines of stars blinking out overhead, and that’s when my mouth finds Sam’s, and we inhale-inhale-inhale and breathe like we’re breathing for Evan, touch like we’re made of stardust, touch until everything feels brighter and important and predestined, touch until all we are is skin.

______________________

“Hey Lisa I Hope You Like” won first place in the 2023 SmokeLong Grand Micro Competition.

About the Author

Sara Hills is the author of The Evolution of Birds, winner of the 2022 Saboteur Award for best story collection. Her work has been selected for Wigleaf’s Top 50, The Best Small Fictions, Quiet Man Dave, the Welkin Prize, NFFD micro, and the Bath Flash Fiction Award, as well as widely published in anthologies and magazines, including SmokeLong QuarterlyCheap PopFractured LitCease Cows, Flash Frog, X-R-A-Y, Splonk, and New Flash Fiction Review. Originally from the Sonoran Desert, Sara lives in Warwickshire, UK. Find her online at sarahillswrites.com and elsewhere @sarahillswrites.

About the Artist

Bruno Guerrero is a photographer based in Flint, Michigan.

This story appeared in Issue Eighty-Two of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Eighty-Two
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