if you told me this never happened, i would believe you. everything existed as though painted in a dream, and i’ve had this dream so many times that one more instance of waking up to find it disintegrating around me would be no more surprise: waking up lost in the memories of presence and your mouth in a parking lot, your body the insulation against a frightening wind; your callused hands reaching up to my face...

if you told me this never happened, i would believe you. i almost considered asking -- did this happen? -- when i saw you the next morning in a clean white shirt, and you said hello as always.

until you smiled.

i had imagined that night that i might ask so many times that i started to forget i hadn’t asked yet. that you hadn’t said yes or no. if you told me i still hadn’t, then i would believe you, and never think of asking again. i have imagined what might happen if i only asked so many times that this new scenario, one i’d never thought of before fades into them all and i’ve lost the handles that distinguish it from the others as the one that is actually real. it is just one new detail, a new way of feeling your hand pressed against me, so indistinguishable that i can believe. i can believe it as one more dream.

if you told me this never happened, then i would believe you. i mention little words we threw around last night and snippets of our conversation to watch your eyes brightly sparkle as you look up from your work, and i think it is recognition. that you’re telling me you know this, and that you liked my words.

how many times have i mistaken shy and awkward silence for a cool confidence – or a fear to reach out for disinterest, from a man too engaged in his own thoughts to ever notice me?

let me put this another way: if you tell me this never happened, i will believe you.

i will believe you and forget.

if you tell me this never happened, i will believe you, and dismiss the way your face was lit, part blue, part yellow from the neon signs around us, like a painting. i will believe you and forget the strange insistence of your kiss in broken waves and the scent of smoke on your thin, black jacket. or your stride as you came to meet me in the darkness, below a streetlamp, and your figure poised in the doorway of your turquoise pickup truck. and the way that you said thank you.

tell me it never happened and i will let these reside in false memories with all the other dreams i’ve had of the day that i might ask. of the day you might say yes, and of the night when it might all disappear.

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