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Feeding on the Thamirabarani Metro

Super fast and super premium. We wished that were true about the greyscale beat of our lives. Its expectations a stone in our gullets. When we died, one by one by glorious one, we were not prepared for these things, as we were only girls. Not before, and certainly not after. On the Thamirabarani, men rode with pulses thrumming under their necks, their mustaches lining banks of teeth as they smiled, as they laughed, as their voices filmed over us. We had always believed that feelings were something that took its time, in awkward fits, in false starts, but in those moments, we plunged right through the earth, through rippling bands of magma, down to its searing core. We were boiled alive by love. We were incinerated. It started with the college boys, benched together on the train in inebriated lumps of arrack and acid. Nightfall skin, their limbs river-reed supple. The boys’ sweat pinpricked our gums in salt, their sinews trellising our fanged teeth. Next, was the kuthu dance man. He boarded the metro at the edge of a drainage basin, when the frogsong was at its shrillest. We could barely contain ourselves. We undid our abdominal cavities for him, letting the tickertapes of our innards loose, the polypeptide rush of our desires. Lourderaj, we breathed his name. We vacuumed him into ourselves, his gold lame shirt a supernova of light in our throats. Then, there was the cavalcade of married men who were all the same—safari suits, hair retreating back into their follicles, mouths livid with betel nut. We held them firm between our thighs. We bloodlet ourselves into their areca red lips as we kissed them goodbye, as we stretched our mandibles over their now-lifeless torsos. On the Thamirabarani we were a consumption. We ate, just like the way we had once been eaten. We ate as though the entire world with its shorelines and crags and oceans were in our maw, as though even that would not be enough, never be enough. 

M. L. Krishnan originally hails from the coastal shores of Tamil Nadu, India. She is a 2019 graduate of the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop, and her work has appeared, or is forthcoming in The Best Microfiction 2022, The Offing, Trampset, Paper Darts, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter @emelkrishnan.

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