‘Snakebite’ by Saba Sams


Carrie: Snakebite, 2005 (CC)

From Granta:

Lara liked a snakebite. She drank other things but this was her go-to. She was only in it to get fucked; she didn’t care about the taste. She admitted that to me freely, once I got to know her. I took a light interest in taste myself, but mostly I chose my booze by colour. I liked anything vibrant, Aperol or crème de menthe. I worked in a pub called the Queen’s Head and whenever things got depressing in there I’d pour myself a shot. My manager, Mark, rarely noticed. Unless the schoolgirls were in, he spent most of his time in the back, gambling on his own fruit machines.

I’d had six shots the night I met Lara. It was Valentine’s Day. The pub was empty but for a single regular sat at the bar, reviewing his reflection in a pint of Guinness. The door opened and a guy came in, with Lara following behind. It was raining out. They were both dripping gently, holding themselves. He was perhaps nineteen, in an ugly red and yellow polo shirt, no coat. He had an Adam’s apple like a swallowed blade, hair in a scraggly ponytail. Lara wore fishnets and huge black boots. She seemed to be surrounded by a fine blue light.

It was only when the guy with the ponytail repeated his order that I realised I hadn’t been listening. There was an edge of shyness to his voice, left over from being with Lara. The raindrops coming off him tapped at the wood floor.

Sorry, I said, reaching for the pint glasses.

It’s lager and cider. Equal parts. Cheapest you’ve got.

I know what a snakebite is, I said.

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