Almond Breath and Cyborg Sex

Buzzy Martin
BFA SC 2025

The reason, I think, that I don’t like poppers, is the flow of blood to your head. When you can feel the warm tingling of your skin, your heartbeat pumping in your skull, your hemoglobin oxidizing, cutting off your oxygen supply, effectively drowning you in plein air — you really have no choice but to acknowledge your own mortality. I feel uneasy, claustrophobic almost, my consciousness bound within this suit of skin and sinew.

I’m having a good time, right? Honestly, I’m not sure. I hope so, I think, simply, plainly: a white sliced loaf of a thought.

“Hey, where’d you go?”, he says, with a smile. I am having a good time.

I turn his head towards mine, gently — posing a mannequin — his stubble on my fingertips like an itchy scarf. I plant a kiss firmly on his lips.

“I’m just a bit high right now,” I confess. “It’s been a while since I’ve smoked this much”.

I’m only now noticing a new burning sensation in my finger, probably from lighting my pipe a few minutes ago. My boyfriend last year left it to me when we broke up. Sat on my windowsill among my other pieces of detritus — a bottle of PrEP, a tape measure, a small oblong box confining an assortment of clippings from both my nails and various sewing projects within its plastic walls – its three googly eyes are fixated on a cylindrical pot of pens. I’ve never looked at it this closely before, even thought to consider it as an artful object. It’s beautiful, the color of lichen on an old birch tree, of sea glass shining among the pebbles.

“I have work in the morning,” I tell him, firmly, shattering any notion that we could stay here together, forever, swaddled and sweating in my midnight blue sheets. What was his name again? Daniel? David?

I lean in to kiss him again and his eyes glimmer under the fairy lights. He tastes like almonds. “Surely I can stay for just one more hour,” he ventures, and, almost selfishly, I don’t have the heart to tell him no.

He shimmies down the bed, hands finding my thighs, spreading my legs as I reach for the small brown bottle on my bedside. I didn’t put vers in my profile for nothing.

I take another hit of the poppperssssa and I feel the blood pumppppinh aoooooooo0o00o000010111101 —

Sitting alone on the crowded subway, I try not to attract too much attention. Not that I would anyway. Metal grinds upon metal. Elbows, shoulders, kneecaps, hair clips. Denim, acrylic, nylon, wool, cotton, B. O., a latte in a plastic cup with a soggy paper straw. Jeggings. A pug with a beret, its eyes bulging out of its sockets. Lungs heaving, it stares around, transfixed by the scene before it. A globule of spit swells on its left lip before flowing downwards, splattering on the floor. “What have we become?” I think to myself — one, two, clicking the button on the top right back of my headphones — “Forcibly impregnating and inbreeding your ancestors so that your heart barely fits into your ribcage, so that we can dress you up and carry you round in a handbag?” The music, strapped to my head in its casing of leather and metal, circuit boards and cables, is my protection from the incessant rabble around me. I’m indestructible.

And yet, I feel strangely vulnerable, dressed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with all the accoutrements of business casual — cuffs, a stiff collar, long sleeves that cover my tattoos. There is a burst of static over the announcement system, loud enough to disarm my forcefield of Britney Spears. At this point, I wonder why the drivers even bother reading out the station names: no amount of enunciation will fix the systemically underfunded public transit sector, or the speakers gathering dust in their casings, unchanged and unmaintained, since their first installation twenty, thirty years ago. But we, the lost inhabitants of this garishly silver and orange receptacle, the impermanent residents of carriage 4 of the downtown 1, the motley crew who all chose to be in this place, at this fine hour of 8:37 am on a Thursday — we need no announcements.

Our senses masked by our screens and headphones, our masks and our cheap, nylon blazers, we already know where we are going: as a flock of birds moves with the changing seasons, so too have we been programmed to move up and down the length of our city. What is a yearly cycle for them becomes a daily chore, hassle, expectation — days becoming years, and years becoming days.

We pull into a station, metal grinding metal once again, and the flock dwindles significantly. There’re still a few stops before we reach 42nd Street, Times Square™, center of the Big Apple. My aunt would be so proud.

I close my eyes, and allow myself to think of him, of sparkling eyes and almond breath, of that guy whose name I can’t quite remember. We are two meteors in the cosmos, on our own trajectories, rushing further and further apart with every second that goes by.

Last night, we talked about politics, money, our goals in life, our hopes for the future. He worked in finance, or property, or something like that. When I asked him what time he had to be in the office tomorrow, he seemed amused — “I get to choose,” he told me, flashing his sharp, whitened teeth. “I like to keep my employees guessing.”

The subway screeches into another station — Columbus Circle. Two stops left. The lady with the pug gets off, and a new batch of people flock into her place: what I assume to be a college student wearing a mossy green bomber jacket. More jeggings. Another latte.

I’m not sure what to make of him. Have I slept with the proverbial enemy? What would my friends back home think of the man with the almond breath? I will myself to remember more about him, the mysterious businessman — a Prada bag, triangular, perfect, too small to be practical. A thin gold chain draped over his collarbones. Maybe he works for the mafia, I conclude. Or maybe just a big corporation — but he was way too young? And at this point, what’s the difference between the two?

The static goes off again, once, twice — and we’re nearing my stop, my office cubicle, the place I spend 40 hours more than I would like to each week. I can feel the carriage shuffling in anticipation — it’s their stop too. A girl opposite from me shoves the scarf she’s knitting into her rucksack. The yarn is blue, grey blue, the color of sea glass, the color of lichen on the trees, the color of my ex’s pipe.

I wonder if I’ll see him again — the businessman, the wolf man, the almond man — with our connection forged on ephemeral wires, in data centers, on computers far away, shaped by drugs — PrEP, marijuana, amyl nitrate: a relationship built from latex and silicone with plastic douches and butt plugs, paper towels and midnight bedsheets, and I’m getting up now, preparing to leave my silver and orange home behind, and as I step out onto the platform and the doors begin to close behind me, I take off my headphones, reach my hands to the ceiling and feel the muscles in my arms stretch, ripple and flex upwards, to the stars.

Buzzy Martin is off in a field somewhere, sat by a campfire.