You ask me If I know the way back home from here. I sing the words, “yes, dear” back to you like I’m someone else. You say “alright” because you’ve got nothing else to say right now; I respect that. I keep my eyes on the road. I’m not quite sure where you’re looking at this point
I could feel you side-staring at me in that room. Without knowing you, I could tell you were naive and worldly. I could tell you had inconsistencies. You were defensive and hard to read. A light gazer with flickering eyes. You’re not really any of that anymore.
The smell of your freshly showered hair fills my car, and persists, even with the stream of air coming in from the windows. It gets to me, and takes me a minute to poke away. Just before you say something again.
You smell like your house and look like your father. Your dog always looks happy to see me. The color of your house reminds me of childhood. I dislike every detail about you.
I try reversing this process, but I cannot go back in my mind far enough to account for the change. I caught you looking at me and knew I had to keep watch.
When I was little, I thought when you broke a bone, it came out of you and appeared on the floor: white, gritty, and stainless.
I fall over my toes, into the saltwater. Porcelain shells bash my knees. The sky is turning brighter as I stir my gaze. I wonder why it isn’t raining. It is May, after all.
I wonder where I got these dreams and tastes as a Midwesterner. I wonder where I found the faith in myself to keep with it after all of this. I wonder when I decided to leave God behind for girls; I wonder why her body keeps me wondering. I wonder why I always come back for love after all of this. There’s no reason within reach.
You interrupt my daydreaming. My gaze focuses, and the color of the road sharpens as I hear you say, “I should get home soon, my parents don’t like me out at night in the rain.”
I nod in agreement. I know you parents. I know your family, and they are nothing like mine. I’ve read the cans on your counter and scanned the photos on your wall. I turn on one last song for us. I let us sing like falling backwards onto my bed; I let us have this song together. I let us sing it in my car way too loudly not caring about how we sound. There are no attempts to talk over it.
Walk behind me up the stairs to my room. I want you to sit down as I make you a cup of tea. Tell me what it was that woke you. I’ll help you fight it, again.
I want to talk to you, until I know again, why I keep coming back for you. I want to dress you in my silk nightgown and make you wait for me to come home from a peaceful night’s walk. A long, barefoot, wet grounded walk.
By the time I’m back, you’re an easy dreamer. Sound asleep, face down, under my covers.
As of now, we are three blocks away. Our phones shriek simultaneously; Flash flood warning.
I smile, remembering my childhood illusions. I still think I could find a way to breathe underwater if necessary.
You look like a river nymph; Holy hell, you’re heavenly.
Don’t get out of the car. Stay with me. We’ll drive right by your dad at the dining room table and go straight to the park. I let you hold me on the park bench. We can sing this same song and dance together till we have to sleep. We can search for four leaf clovers in the dark.
I like it when you doubt my recklessness; do it again.
Outside it is magnificent: bare linen body temperature bliss.
God, I really want to kiss you. We both feel so much more than we say.
I hope the wind picks up. The rain needs to breathe.
Your dad is waiting. I unlock the door and let you leave. The air circulating my car still smells like your hair. I breathe through my mouth and taste it.
I feel like I can tell you anything. You have receptive eyes and skin. You’re gentle and always know how to move around things. Things like this.
I tease you because you like leaves that turn yellow. I prefer the reds.
I hate how you form your eights like snowmen and how you think math is useless.
I have so much inside of me that would feel like everything to say to you.
You haven’t gotten out of my car yet. Let’s keep you here. The image of you safety yellow and woven. The shape of your face and peak of your shoulders. The monotonous, suburban street.
You are confusing memories and trying to remember when I realized what memories I was making.
You are faint blue light and snail shells.
You walk a step ahead of me, through the itchy wet grass, down to the creek bed.
You exhale wildly, and the pebbles on the riverbed rattle up the stream, cutting through the mud like my fingers making you beautiful and vibrant. I kiss you, and the night falls quiet again. I can feel your heart beat slowing through your kiss.
Your body curves over mine like a soft tumbled rock. You share your wisdom.
You are not who you are when I dream of you, and I am not satisfied with that. Go back to your house that smells like you. I will go back to mine, dreaming.
The rain reaches your lips and you move your mouth around to taste the rain. I obscure the longing on my awkward, wobbly lips with my knuckle. Fist clenched and all. My sweaty palm gasping for air.
Your back is to me. The passenger window is splattered with rain. I see the side of your face as you open your door and your blonde hair, brown from the water as the sky is dark from the night. Your cheeks are flushed. You look divine.
I wake from an instant of sleep urgently, without the pleasant memory of a dream.
Your body odor on my pillows keeps me up.
Please, go home; it’s late.
I want to be half asleep in my sheets by the time the rain starts.
I want my body to steep in it as I fall.
There it is: the memory. Of falling asleep to silent, thoughtless rain:
Of pretending that I already have you down.