In my dreams I’m climbing. My hands grip wooden railings and the edges of bricks. I pull myself over balconies and stand on the knobs of doors. I brush flakes of paint from my hands onto my pants and look over a small inlet to apartments across the water. There is a light there, blocked by a friend I only know when I’m asleep. I think routes, maps that mean escape and freedom and eluding pursuit. Up, I dream, up and over and that way. I am rescuing myself from the ground.
The graffiti in the washroom reads DO IT BECAUSE IT’S FASHIONABLE? VOMIT! WHY NOT? in thin black permanent marker on the door. Later, for a split second, I think I recognize the hand-writing as I walk by a man sitting fetal on the street, rocking back and forth, holding a sign in the air with an empty paper coffee cup. HIV POSITIVE & HUNGRY, PLEASE GIVE CHANGE. I am wrong, of course, it is merely that they are both messy block letters, both made in staining black marker. I am walking too fast, not fast enough. We miss the light and have to wait. My wallet is thick with coins, but there are none spare. I am poor. The quarters are for laundry, the dimes are for carefully counting out at the check-out counter one by one by one as I try to pay for a bag of oranges. I don’t feel guilty, but I turn my head from him as we stop and talk. I want to block my brother from his line of sight. He is eighteen, but he is still too young.
It’s official now that I’m tangled with a hotel ghost, brass numbers drifting through my blood. There was A Talk last night that mostly involved Kyle apologizing. “Where will you be tonight?” “Vanishing.” It was a portrait of everything dysfunctional between us. Ourselves as hungry children who deny that we’re stealing. He said, “like” and “you know what I mean?” a lot. I nodded into his shoulder and repeatedly asked him “why?”
We’re a gordian knot on the bed. “I’ve got too much to figure out right now.” A train-wreck year. “Let me explain mine.” Every five sentences, we’re laughing a little, he’s unconsciously kissing the top of my head. We tell the right kind of stories. “See, this I can live with. This is really nice.” I say yes. “More is too much. You scare me.” “See me twice a week,” I say. He says he’s not sure.
I believe him implicitly when he says I’m scary. Everyone worth knowing says I’m scary.
The summary is a red flag warning that he’s unreliable company, that he’s not ready for four letter words. I can live with that. “Come back to bed with your dumped non-girlfriend.” He says, “See, you’re scaring me again.” and stops his mouth with mine. My gold lipstick dusts his cheeks and the tip of his nose.
After, he spreads his hands with an expression on his face that I can’t identify. “Where did you come from?” I can’t see him, is he kidding? My glasses are off, I’m too blind. I lean down, spreading wool across his shoulders, my weight on my hands. “What do you mean?” “It’s a good thing, believe me.” I’m grinning. This is the same man I had a water fight with in the bed an hour earlier. The sheets are still damp with beer. He found out where I’m ticklish. “Well, where did you come from?” “Here,” his hands point out, “planet Earth.” I tell him I fell from the moon. It feels true.