by Tutku Barbaros

Sabriye, Sab for short, can read the temperature by state of coconut oil alone. A jar sits on her bedside table. Liquid when hot, solid when cold. Upside down when upside down. Upright, when up right. She smoothes it into each stubborn ringlet of her hair and watches as it makes something brittle, something smooth. Making something sexy out of something uncouth.
(Don’t we always?)
(You’re telling me sister)

Coconut slicked freshly waxed thighs. Elbows get the treatment too.
All the while she thinks of you.
From top to toe she’s coconutty about you.

She picks an outfit that’s clear but not too slutty. Whatever slutty means. And honestly she has no idea. She asks herself in plunge bra and camo jacket. In jeans and woke t-shirt. In crop top and short skirt. She asks herself again and again how can she get the message through to you? That she’s open wide, available to you but not to be hurt. Not to be punished. Not to be disregarded, taken for granted. She’s curious – how do other women show this?
(I have no idea)
(Me neither sister)

You meet her on some street corner and remark nothing of her outfit. You take her to a film you’ve picked. You make her laugh. Over and over again. And the ecstasy of that will lead to more sleepless nights than you could even imagine. But you don’t imagine. I don’t think you even ask.
(Do they ever?)
(Sometimes they do)
(Mostly, they assume)
(You’re telling me sister)

All the sparks in you became a fire in her. And all the parts of you can have a place in her. And she shows you that. Which is agony for Sabriye. But she does it nonetheless. After a thousand coconut kisses she eases. And against her own admission, of not thinking too far ahead – she spins a narrative which extends beyond a flat in Stoke Newington with just one bed.
(I’m always curious to know, why do we bother paining ourselves with the business of hope?)
(I’ve never understood)
(I’ll never understand)
(Me neither sister)


“All the sparks in you became a fire in her.”


Over cocktails she tells you what she thinks about this latest film you picked. She’s not afraid to say she really fucking hated it. She’s not afraid at all. That’s the thing about you, you make her feel like she could say anything – and so she does. You make her feel so totally chilled.
(I can see that when you walk out – it’s going to fucking kill)
(How can you tell?)
(I don’t know, I just can, intuition sister)
(Pessimistic sister?)

You’re halfway through dinner in some pimped out burger bar, where there’s crates for chairs and bricks exposed: he’s distracted by his phone. It rings. He shuts it up. But you see it vibrating in the corner of your eye. Feel the table shake.
Four tiny earthquakes.
Four tiny seismic waves which will ripple through your thoughts for days.
He talks to you with one eye placed firmly on the phone. You tell him he can take it. He says it’s no big deal but he needs to go to the bathroom. Off he goes. Phone in hand.
And that’s all The Tell you need.
All The Tell that you can stand.

You’ve been here before. Various times before. You won’t cry. You won’t cause a scene. You get up. You ask the waiter for the bill. You pay it, all of it. No point in staying just to hear him lie. So you walk out as you drop him a text.
‘Tell your girlfriend I said hi.’

And he will never hear from you again. Blocked immediately. Texts stuck forever left on sent.

You’ll tell the girls (in particular, the women in your head), that he is not a curiosity you need to satisfy. Spare me the ‘we were going through a rough a patch when I met you’  or the ‘you’re just so brilliant I didn’t know how to resist you’ or the ‘I love you but I love her too’ and the ‘she’s crazy so if she found out she’d kill me and she’d kill you too’ or the ‘I promise I’m not actually that kind of guy’. Spare me every line. Spare me every one.

Time passes.
Each crack stabilises.
Consistently as coconut I  find myself  back in the mirror.
Starting the process again.
A new you.
Smoothing out, each rough edge I’m curious to know:
Why do I pain myself with the business of hoping.
I don’t know, answer all the women in my chest.
I don’t know.

Tutku Barbaros | @tutkubarbaros

Raised on hummus and hip hop, Tutku Barbaros is a writer, artist & activist. She’s one third of the confrontational and cake covered Plunge Theatre with whom she’s currently writing a sitcom.

@tutkubarbaros  @PlungeTheatre

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