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Alysa Levi-D’Ancona

Palate Cleanser

Xenor meanders across cool tiles, groaning as she ponders the poor mechanics of feet. With all that flat real estate across webbed skin, one wonders why there isn’t hair covering absolutely everywhere below the ankle. Even the ursine lot have fur between the toes—and they swim! If fur is practical enough protection to swim with, then it damned well is practical enough protection against ceramic tiles in a $4000 a month apartment downtown.

She looks at herself, leaning on the granite countertop of her vanity. Will she want to go to DiscoReek or lay low at WormWilly tonight? Or, will Munther prowch up the courage to ask her out again? She runs her tongue along her gritty, slimy teeth—as though a snail left its prints across crumbled graham crackers.

As Xenor exhales hot, she realizes Munther will eventually wake to this image of her. If things keep going well, that is. One day, he will exit slumber to find Xenor in her ice-foot, snail-trail-mouth glory and think, “Yes. This is my person.”

But that day is not today, so she grabs the tube from the sink and squid-squelches the inky line onto her brush. She observes the shiny mass, shoves it in her mouth, and starts scrubbing at her teeth.

A thought halts the motion. She removes the brush from her lips, crouches down, and begins scrubbing between her toes instead.

Alysa Levi-D'Ancona (she/her) teaches high school English by day and pursues her MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics at UW Bothell at every other waking hour. Liminality, surrealism, postmodernism, absurdism, and speculative fiction are the pepper of her pages; cats, coffee, cooking, hikes, and warm blankets are the salt of her earth. Levi-D'Ancona's writing has also recently appeared in Querencia Press’s Women, Queer, Trans, NB Anthology series, Occulum, The RavensPerch, UWB Crow, Clamor, and Stories That Need to Be Told 2021. Follow her on Instagram: @alevidancona.

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