We would always stub out our candy cigarettes on the mulberry leaves in our tree house, fingers and lips stained purple from berries, watching our parents drink gin and tonics after sets of sweaty tennis. Mia’s mother with the long legs saying her daughter would soon need a nose job. Her whisky voice rising into the branches when she asked my father to join her for a shower. My mother giggling and pouring her gin to overflowing.

***

We would always track down the nearest bar no matter what continent. Mia’s huge grin getting us in even when the place was full. Waiters competing to refill her perfect martini. Refusing the men buying her drinks, she’d pull me from my chair to slow dance, her fingers smoothing my hair, holding my body tighter with each passing city and year, as we’d sway and sing Piano Man in every language we remembered from school.

***

We would always write letters; Mia’s perfect cursive detailing her affairs with married men. Her nib ripping the page when she wrote of her mother whose hatred still stained her no matter how far she travelled from home. We’d write monthly until Mia checked into a hotel room on her own in Morocco, flirted with the doorman, triple-tipped the waitress, danced on the hotel bar, her arms wrapped tight around herself, the hotel manager told me after.

***

Lisa Alletson grew up in South Africa and England, and now lives in Canada. Her writing is published or forthcoming in Crab Creek Review, New Ohio Review, Bending Genres, CLOVES, Moist Poetry Journal. You can find her on Twitter @LotusTongue.