You ask me if I’ve dated. Not seriously. You want to know why. I can’t tell you why. I haven’t even said the word to myself.
I remember us in your room at midnight, bright underneath a full moon, our limbs intertwined like roots tangled in the mud. Two bodies fighting into one. It felt like my ears had popped in the pit of my belly, like suddenly, finally I could hear and see everything clearly. You clung to me. Your hands carved your name into my skin like it was the bark of a tree. Sometimes I just like seeing your name. A name is like a stone, a stick, something I can hold close or throw away. A name is not the river holding me under.
You ask me why this already feels so weighty. You say we should take it in stride. I google what it means to take things in stride.
To cope with something unfortunate without much effort.
The first time around you told me you couldn’t stop thinking about me. I smiled, pleased. No! I can’t do anything else! I reached for you; you threw your hands up. You’re constantly on my mind! Just leave! I tried to hold you, you pushed me down the stairs, ran out the door. We didn’t talk for months.
Not until I called you from a rooftop two countries away. It was noon and I hadn’t slept. Why are you calling? You sounded small and winded. I couldn’t say why. It had only just happened and my tongue couldn’t make the shape of the word. I swung in a hammock, listened to the tuk-tuks, pushed my toes against a glass table lined with white powder, and tried to see how far I could pull without letting go.
I heard you had a girlfriend.
Yeah, I do.
I waited for a chord to snap, scooped powder with the nail of my pinky. Your new girlfriend studies British Literature teaches yoga. She has a boyish body, translucent hair and skin, pimples on her forehead.
Well, that’s nice. I eyed a man in dark jeans and a crisp white t-shirt pouring ketamine on a skillet. The day before I woke up to him inside me.
Be safe. A blue vein under the man’s tongue curled around the top of his lip. His eyes were wet with something like desire. I read somewhere no one can take what you give away. I smiled at him, slipped into a skin I couldn’t shed for years.
Your girlfriend’s hobbies include baking and riding her bike. I picture her in a sky-blue cruiser, a platter of cookies in a white wicker basket. Her hair and skin float weightlessly around her, a dandelion you’ve blown your wish upon. I wonder if you ever felt the weight of your name, sagging underneath my skin. If you’d want to see the stones buried there.
E. Alexandra is a psychologist in New Mexico. She studied creative writing at New York University. Her fiction/poetry has appeared in Cathexis Northwest Press, Prometheus Dreaming, unstamatic, and Eastern Iowa Review. She is working on a collection of short stories.
Love was (Poetry) https://www.cathexisnorthwestpress.com/lovewas
Mud (Fiction) https://www.unstamatic.info/mud
Reincarnate (Poetry) https://www.prometheusdreaming.com/reincarnate
Pinwheels (Fiction) http://www.portyonderpress.com/emily-mathis—pinwheels.html
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