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The cocoa-haired girl by Juliana Tattoli
The cocoa-haired girl had no screen on her window. Every morning at 8’oclock and every
evening at 8’oclock she would lean her curved torso out the window and spark a lighter’s flame
to the tip of a cigarette, or occasional joint, which rested between her always-lipsticked lips. She
usually used the Bic lighters that she exchanged her long-saved and scrounged up coins with for
at the gas station on 3rd Ave, smiling daintily at the shifty employee who smelled of unfiltered
cigarettes. She couldn’t stand unfiltered cigarettes. She didn’t understand how people could
smoke them. Today, however, she used her late father’s old cigar lighter, craving nostalgia.
Despite her neighbor’s complaints about the smoke – especially from her morning sessions – the
cocoa-haired girl continued to smoke out her unscreened window, and no one could do anything
else about it, because the cocoa-haired girl was confident and intimidating, she thought, or
because the neighbors were too busy to give any more cares than yelling something at her in
German, but the cocoa-haired girl didn’t know German.
The cocoa-haired girl’s signature lip color was a deep, sultry shade of plumy purple with
undertones hinting magenta. The cocoa-haired girl wore this color every single day, save the
days she refused to wear makeup at all. The color was named Heather Rabbit, and it was made
by a company who exclusively sold online. The cocoa-haired girl took secret and strangely
selfish, satisfactory pride in replying “Oh, you can’t find this color at the malls,” when prompted
by a competing peer with “Where did you find that lip color?”. Every morning when the cocoa-
haired girl swiped the saucy pigment onto her plump lips, the very final step to her elaborate
routine of painting and decorating her face with various brushes, creams, powders, pencils, and
glitters, she felt like sex, at least that’s the only way she ever cared to describe it.
In the mornings, before her smoke, the cocoa-haired girl brewed coffee, using an espresso maker
she got at a neighbor’s garage sale. She would always add cream and honey. She would sip her
creamy, sweet caffeine in between the curls of smoke floating lingering around her lips as she
leaned out her window. She would always leave a little bit of liquid left at the bottom of the mug,
and once finished with her cigarette, she’d toss the butt in the mug, watching and listening as the
embers singed and diminished into the bit of brown, foamy liquid.
In the evenings, after her smoke, the cocoa-haired girl shaped herself like a crescent moon
around her black cat, who would be curled up on her colorful striped blanket. The long cocoa-
hair of the girl would fall upon the short black fur of the cat and the cat would purr. Beyond and
below the window, dogs would bark, there would be the sound of children who didn’t want to go
inside yet and parents who would shout “Get inside!”
The cocoa-haired girl loved the nighttime. She would describe it to be as silent as the color blue.
All art in this slideshow by Rachel Graves @URFLYISDOWN
All photos in this slideshow by Mikayla Mayumi @mikaylamayumi
© The Scintillation 2019. All rights reserved.