Saying Yes

I am not in love with him. But I keep chanting it. Saying I love him over and again is how I bring attention to myself. You see I cannot afford love, I can only tolerate attention. Yesterday when I was in the restaurant he owns, we stood together in the kitchen and shared a cigarette. He asked me out. I refused because once I say, Yes, the chase will be over. I should catalog all the ways he has tried to approach me. Like a storm hitting a different window each time. You never know which one will give in. But every
opening is jammed with a casual and distant politeness. However, to his credit, he never takes his eyes off me and turns his head every time I pass by. It is erotic and makes me think that he daydreams about different situations in which I might say, Yes, or when he wants some strange pleasure like I do, he imagines us to be apart and one fine day, when we come face to face after all these years, I’d recognize something in his face and ask, Are you him? And he won’t stop nodding his head, Yes, yes, yes.


First appeared in Visceral Brooklyn

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Trick or Treat

You dress up as my ex-lover: curly, blond hair and Scottish accent coated tongue. We collect treats and I steal a glance or two, stuff it between the candies. When we reach home, I sense a presence inside me, a light wobble, a tremor.

Two children are dressed as fairies. Their parents wait on the other side of the lawn. One girl looks at me, grabs three truffles and walks away. The other says, Thank you.

Tomorrow I’ll call the abortion clinic. But I need to talk to you first.

A woman walks up our driveway with a toddler. She looks like someone in a grocery line with a cart full of Campbell’s chunky soups and Hormel chili. Someone who drinks a lot of Coke and uses a lot of Bounty. After she leaves, I want to say something about her tangled hair, the delicate smile of her boy, but a series of elementary school kids appear: a bumblebee, two skeletons and a ninja. Twins dressed up as Snow White and Jasmine.

A pregnant woman is pushing a stroller on the sidewalk. Her shoulders are narrow, her gait unsteady. For a moment, I place my hand on my belly as if receiving a message from her fetus. I wonder if it is warm inside my belly.

We talk about what might be a cool Halloween costume: a talking gravestone, a time capsule, a laughing Buddha. Then we argue about right and wrong. More so about difficult and easy. The beginning and the end. How the wind knows its way even in darkness, how life always wins even if it seems otherwise.

There is a birthday party going on two houses down the road: the ruckus is on, teenagers in bandannas and ripped denim shorts, yelling, laughing and swearing all at once like a bad-flavored candy. A man dressed as a hobo shows up and says a mysterious word. You nod your head as if you know the meaning. He leaves without candy.

The sky looks like a translucent shell and an evening chill settles on our shoulders. You watch the falling leaves, the evaporating light. I sense the descending spirits, my child unfolding. Growing in the dark, knowing its way. We hold hands and I see your fingertips are all yellow from smoking. For a moment I forget, this is where I live. I could be a ghost already. A shiver slips through and lets me believe we still have time to be young and breathless. To treat ourselves with something new. To trick ourselves with love.


First appeared in Compose Journal, Spring’2016

 

antibodies

The clouds come in, lower the ceiling of light, and we bump our heads. You flip a coin and decide it’s Taco Bell instead of McDonald. We drive around in your old Chevy pickup, buy food with quarters. You squeeze a hot sauce sachet around my ring finger while we talk about your childhood, shots and homework — the reality slipping away, temporarily held by words. We become a family as we grow quiet and brush our hands against each other. Looking at the bare pavement, we contemplate what would we draw if we had chalk. The light changes and it seems the air is blurred with dusk. When you pass the cigarette, I touch your skin a little longer: it’s familiar, the expecting skin of another teenager. Uncertain like me with goosebumps. The world is reduced to our breath and hollow rings of smoke, and the pinch in my soul is brief. Like I’ve had a vaccination. And love circulates in my blood slowly creating antibodies of doubt and fear as if they always exist together.

 


First published in Ink In Thirds