the fear of being majestically on fire

Water above, below. The boat shifting as we do. Music in my head, songs from the other night. The studio, lit by candles and street lights. Our bare feet against the red wood of the floor as we back up slowly, step by step, away from each other. Running, the sensation of wind indoors. Running without mercy. No reason to flinch, he’ll fall away before I do. He will or get hit. I’ve never done this before, but it feels right. Spontaneous and elemental, my hands on his, we’re dancing again. He fell away, I twisted, we caught wrists. I’d forgotten what it was like to trust someone like this, drowning in the realization of equality. Strangled singing, my voice rising in harmony, wrapped in too many memories. I fade out only to pour back in. Reading by a lantern, insisting he write. His staring whispers to me.

Oh, that evening. That hotel. That city, this one. That damaged morning, this damaged heart.

Get your teenage kicks where you can find them. This is no dress rehearsal.

“We live in our souls as in an unmapped region, a few acres of which we have cleared for our habitation; while of the nature of those nearest us we know but the boundaries that march with ours.”

Edith Wharton, ‘The Touchstone’, 1900

I’m always healing with what isn’t mine, always rubbing cat-like against the ankles of unlikely electricity, always wondering when it will be my turn. I’m a second-hand store princess, worn velvet and pretty hair, glassy eyes gathered into loving arms then left on the bus. The image of country sliding past is an easy one. I have years of it, my head smudging the cold window. My breath a slight fog. Towns made of match-boxes piled into general stores, lonely gas-stations bricked up with unhappy marriages and wrong turns, freckle-faced counters, cheap coffee-ring bracelets, where did we think we were going? Trestle bridges of broken teeth, snapped off ill-guided passion tied with hanks of the promises we thought were important before we got bitter.

Standing on the window sill, a tensegrity structure made of arms and legs, I turn to him and say, “We are that movie we don’t like to watch.” It’s true, we’re a musical. Rent, a friends getting together kind of film. Something we may have never seen but we know by heart. Terrifying, if I let myself think about it. Resurfacing.

Water above, water below. Feel free to go into all the rooms of this house, but for this one. That is all I ask of you. “Thank you for letting me love you.” There was no rain when we sat in the window a story above the street. When we waved, it was through clear air. Though no one returned the gesture, we were happy, a cinematic moment trapped in amber hair. Warm with the lights out, violin playing, rock music, movements curving into themselves, leaving us on the couch, shedding monochrome lives for one perfect night, describing one thousand miniscule pains and comforts in blurry detail.

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