You guys don't have to worry. I'll tell you what this is about. I think I know. This is hard to explain. But I don't think I'll be alive much longer.
This is the dairy aisle. I was thinking I might need some milk or something. But I forgot what it was. Why I came stopped mattering half way here. When you're alone you don't have a story.
Someone who looked like her walked past my apartment and I remembered I didn't have the sky anymore. Alone. So long I was alone I didn't remember two people could breathe together in the same room and not use up all the air. You synchronized lifting your forks at meals.
Fell into step walking side by side.
I asked her one morning when the daylight was still blue, the air off the lake was sweet and cool. Everyone asleep. In the veil of light under the trees. Bare feet in the soft lakeside mud. "Why does that happen?"
"I don't know," she said, watching our feet touch the ground at the same time.
Maybe I've made a myth of it. Revision of history. It couldn't have been perfect, could it?
She had a way of looking at me that made me feel things. Cold confusion when I got mad. A warm giggle when I told a joke. A tickling hollow in my chest when all she wanted to be was closer.
No one has ever done it to me again. They didn't want to, I guess.
I sort of miss it, you know?
What she said.
"One of us is the sun."
And you could see her melting into the forest so you become the trees with her. So close you could smell her breath. Like she is the lake and the trees and she's taking you with her into the landscape. That morning.
I tasted her tongue.
I took something out of me. I told her it was for her. Gave it--some of that stuff you're made of. The stuff that makes you go. It's always warm in your chest because that fire is there. She has some of mine and I can't get warm anymore.
I'm not so alive anymore. Not like I used to be.
I think I came to get milk. I have some cookies at home. They don't taste like much. I was thinking milk. Maybe it will get better with it.
Downhill things don't get better.
It was summer. That last summer before you go away to school and start to become what you need to be when you grow up. She asked me not to go and I just laughed that I was going to graduate and make a lot of money.
How was I supposed to know?
She wore shorts and a shirt that had a seal holding a ball on its nose. I was in my gym trunks. I'd slept in them and she knocked on my window and woke me up. Wanted to go swimming.
So we got to the cove and I just took them off. And then I took the seal off her.
It took forever. It's still happening, here. Inside me.
She said, "One of us is the sun, and one is the sky. People come together they can be forever. One of us is what might be. Two of us is a story."
That's what it was. A story. I'm graduated and it was as if I looked up from my books and all I could think of was the curve between her shoulders and her hip. The way she whispered to me what to do.
I didn't know, you know? Where to put my hands. How to move to get it right.
The whole time, right up until the end I was worried we'd get caught.
And then I stopped worrying. All I could do was breathe her. Feel her.
If I close my eyes and get really quiet, I still can.
When it was over I didn't want to let her out of my arms. But you have to. You have to go do other things that don't make much sense after that. Eat. Drive to California. Go away and pretend you can stay alive without that feeling of her being warm beside you.
Everything was after her. Get back to her. Marry her.
I'll come with you if you let me finish.
It worked for a while. Small apartment on the bay. We were forever. We were light. Could see in the dark.
Stupid. I thought I could forget I was missing pieces and go on with everything.
I went away. I distracted myself with school and once there was a lull I went back and she was gone and I kept telling myself I didn't care. There was so much work.
Why do you think I'm this way? The doctor sent me home. No pills.
The only advice was to find her. Touch her touching me. Closure, he called it.
I want to, you know? I'm still in the story and I don't think she is anymore. When she said forever she didn't mean us forever. She meant the memory was a stain that never comes out.
Did the doctor tell you I can't feel anything anymore? Did he tell you I'm colorblind? Everything smells like ice. I think I'm dying.
Each breath, it feels like my lungs are smaller. It's getting hard to breathe air that never moves. Warmth without summer.
The sun in no sky.
She's laying on her side, sheet draped over her like fallen leaves. Botticelli would paint her now. You'd kiss her again if you hadn't just.
"So, tell me," she says. Pushes you away against the palm of your hand. Something about the glide of her breasts against your chest and stomach makes you forget you have to speak to be heard.
She pushes again, laughing.
Roll to your back. Swallow. Get the words back.
You don't have to look to make sure she's sure. The scent of her sweat like the ocean. The sound of her breathing like life from the hand of the creator.
You'll do things for her you'd never do.
She's getting strange. Since that family thing you brought her to. Your afraid she's going to ask you to do something you'd never do.
"It was my cousin," you say. Hear yourself say. "I was, like, fifteen. She was eighteen. Maybe more."
Turn back onto her when she's not expecting. Pin her shoulders under your palms. Straddle her thighs. Look down hard enough, you can read her mind. If you had a tail it would wave sinuous in the dry serengeti air.
When she struggles, she panics a little until you let her free. She grabs a wrist, ties your arm up in hers. Reverses position like a wrestler.
If she had fangs, they'd be dripping blood. Yours.
She's looking down onto you. What's going on inside her? She saw something a few days ago, and she keeps picking at it. What the hell does she think you're hiding?
"Finish the story," she says.
"I don't see why this is important."
"Because I want to know."
She kisses your neck and it feels like almost nothing, so you close your eyes and imagine her doing it.
You say, "We used to go visit my grandmother out in Pennsylvania. There was nothing out there. Absolutely nothing for kids to do. We'd go out of our minds with boredom. There was no air conditioning at that old house. In the summer you couldn't sit in the kitchen. It was a hundred and thirty degrees.
"She had a coal stove. It was on all the time. Blistering hot in the summer. Humid as all get out.
"Our parents would send us kids away. Go play. That sort of thing. And one day we were up in the attic. It was hot up there and after a while we decided to go outside. All the other kids ran down the stairs. I was behind her. She stopped on the staircase, shut the attic door, turned around, and made me go back up."
She lets go of your arm. You run it down her back. Across her shoulders. Down her side, following the slender arc.
"I was afraid at first. First of her. Then she took off her shirt. Her shorts. I just stood there. I couldn't say anything. When I did she put her finger to her mouth. Shhh. Quiet. Then her underwear. There was nothing like her in my life before. She took my hand and made me touch her breast. And I didn't care how hot it was up there. I didn't care we'd be caught. I didn't care if I died.
"I wanted to ask her what she was doing. She put her mouth to my ear. Shush. Pulling off my shirt."
You sit up and she's on your lap, thighs up around your side, heels at your back.
"It was like--it wasn't real. Somehow it stopped being real. I didn't know people could do that. I knew what it was, but I had no idea it felt like that. Not like a cut or being burned, but so inside. So all of you. All I could think was that any boy and girl could get together and, well, why the hell weren't they doing it all the time? Everywhere?"
She giggles. Kisses you on the nose, but you've gone. You're still in the attic fifteen years ago.
"You go through life thinking the world is a certain way. Then something gets shown to you, and everything is different. Everything you touch is different. I could see colors that weren't there. I didn't know what that was.
"I just wanted to take all of her and put her inside of me so we could be the same person."
Now she pulls away slightly, stares into your eyes.
"You're not still in love with her, are you?"
"In love?" bursts from your lips. You never said that. Not then. Not now. Not even to yourself. "I'm not in love."
"You're not in love--or you weren't in love?" She gets off you. Kneels beside you on the bed. You knew this could only lead to trouble. Why did you even bother--?
"She's my cousin. It's not like anything was going to happen."
"Did you keep doing it?"
And all the other times run through your mind. Her eyes. The strands of her hair through your fingers. How could you have forgotten her?
"No. It was just once."
She's off the bed, getting dressed. You're going down. Tail spin. The engine's in flames. Oxygen masks deployed. Can't pull back on the yoke. Nose dive.
"I don't even see her anymore. It's been years. She's married. Has three kids. Would you cut this out? Get back here."
You remember meeting her husband, their wedding.
You remember you would have hit him. You remember you tried to get her to stop. You remember pleading. You remember she cried. You cried. You remember her pulling away, wrenching her wrist from your fist. White lace. Tiny pearl beads.
"You're still in love with her," she says. She's crying. "I could tell. You've been so distant since your grandmother's funeral. I saw you talking to her. You haven't been the same."
How did this go so bad so fast? What the hell is going on?
"I'm not in love with her," you say, over and over. "I'm in love with someone else."
When she's dressed she's sobbing so hard she's shaking.
She gets out, "Look at you. Look at your face."
The door slams.
"I'm in love with you," you hope. "I'm in love." It wrecks everything.
You remember the humid summer air.
I met her in an airport. She asked me if I knew if the flight was delayed. I didn't. I felt I knew her from somewhere, but she asked me first. When she looked at me she said she had the feeling she needed to ask me to come with her.
Thousands of miles the wrong way.
She knew everything about me, even though we'd just met.
I knew she liked bicycles. I knew she climbed mountains. I knew she liked to play piano in the dark.
They called our flights. She said she was in love. With me. Even though she didn't know me.
She'd been dreaming of me. This moment in time. Never again.
We went different ways. Never saw each other before. Never again.
I can't get her out of my head.
She doesn't know where I am, if she ever has to find me again.
Does she think of me?
When my life is over, will I remember who she is?