First Month of Winter in Grenoble

Rukhsar Palla

I was exiting Le Drak Art (a frequented club, half warehouse, half wooden boards and spilled beer), approaching a parking lot filled with cars covered with snow. The cars were freezing and so were the humans, sharing their last minute spliffs. And then I saw him. Well. Not him. Them. I saw them. Between boys and men, lately my favorite find, when scruff is natural but maturity is not. A combat green-coated figure pelting snowballs at un ami. I could not help but shiver, le froid of Grenoble, France, coursing through my veins. I picked up a snowball and threw it, aimed pour le premier fois, and hit this Boyman, square in the jaw.

Manboy, Boyman yelled. He threw snowballs back, while I used a Volvo as my shield. He missed. Missed again. A slow rumble formed, not the Volvo, but the hum of laughter boiling in his belly, mine too. We approached each other slowly. Inching. Step, foot. There’s a footprint. Dodge! Shit! He got me; snatched my jacket and propped me up between the Volvo and the hum in his belly.

He took his hands and rubbed them in my hair, down my neck. Snow down my coat. I did the whimper, j’ai froid, because he’s stronger than me, but it’s the schemish-kind of plea. It was the please have mercy, I came close because I knew you would seek revenge, but I wanted to see more than a hooded figure. I wanted a glimpse of your face, to feel the hum in your belly. He kept laughing that damned laugh. Mange bien! Mange bien! More snow on my cheeks, while one of his arms wrapped itself around my waist.

We made eye contact for the first time and I saw mischief behind his charcoal frames. Boyman’s lips inched closer and I turned so that he met my cold cheek. We were cat and mouse; I didn’t want anything about that to change. God had answered my prayers in the sweetest form, a mongled mess in my arms. Come take this, it said. And I thought, maybe this isn’t God? I looked at Boyman again, he was still half-laughing half-swearing at me. Definitely not God. The itch and the cold and Satan had all come together.


RUKHSAR PALLA is a writer and an editor. She is a Muslimah wandering, sometimes hidden behind sheesha smoke or the pages of a new journal. She received her M.F.A in Fiction from Emerson College and is currently working on a collection of short stories titled, Hisaab & Half-Truths. Her poems have been published in Fragments, The Cape Rock, Straight Forward Poetry, and other literary journals. In her spare time, she can be found sleeping under her rose tapestry or brewing chai for her friends.

(Photo by Pietro Tebaldi on Unsplash)

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