i woke up on the playroom floor, curled around a tiger’s paw, the back of brigsby’s hand across my left shoulder. it was 7:22 and we were late. you must have fallen asleep on the couch waiting for me the night before; i leaned over you and said your name.
we drove there with the windows down, i did my makeup in the car and you sang. we forgot the stroller, but it was ok, you said. we followed the arrows past the crumbling houses and parked in a field. we took the trolley sitting knee to knee, each with a tiny boy on our lap.
rexley clung to me.
I immediately wanted wine, maybe a smoothie, and you were hungry. we found our friends in the back field, hundreds, thousands of blueberry bushes in either direction. brigsby held the bucket while we picked and tossed until we noticed everyone had wandered off. we followed them. we let rexley run, mud soaking in through his socks, leaving black streaks across my legs when he wanted to be held. the bucket was almost full before rex started eating them by the fistful, mouth and cheeks stained purple.
when it was time to head back, we didn’t really want to and you laughed when i admitted it.
you waited in line to pay and high school girls giggled and fawned. we bounced. we slid. we eventually drove home and I watched the hidden houses slide by, old and shambling, dark and perfect…and we thought maybe it would be nice to wake up there everyday. we thought it could be nice to stay.
long sunday. full car. smoking bridge. detour for miles. splintered steps and peeling paint. white sand, blankets of shells. cold waves, dissolving clouds. seagulls screaming, kelsey’s laughing. sand in eyelashes, rocks at the bottom of a baby pool. kisses laced with salt and something sweeter. naps in cars, naps in tents. tattooed boys and sunburned girls. free cookies and a speeding car. mommy’s dancing and everyone laughs. family shower and there’s not enough towels.
before I woke up to find all the pieces had wandered back behind closed eyelids, from whatever facet of reality they had chosen to stay. fully conscious, perfectly lucid, I asked where they’d been, why now, waited for the universe to just fucking answer me.
it was mid march and I was 25.
cold grass. grey morning. fig leaves sheathed in blinding light. blonde halo, glowing curls. glitter eggs and no one wants them. buckets full, ears bent, dirty, broken. white mask, baby’s crying. long skirt, green ferns. bubbles falling so slow, bunny hopping off the edge. carrot cake and a sacrificial lamb. jello eggs and burning rum. stripes and flowers and nothing fits. candy wrappers dancing in the wind, floating shards of metallic plum. moss rabbit and exotic eggs…stone and wood, porcelain and metal, from every corner of the world. white coffee and a favorite cup. deeply stained fingers, grass littered counter. running feet and a hundred eggs. baskets spilling on the floor, tiny frogs and sugar dreams. an old hound dog looking on… and the sleepy sun is just kissing your neck in all the right places.
maybe if you drive 300 miles away, the air will be easier to breathe. maybe the sun will burn away the bad and the water there will wash it away. maybe the liquor tastes better, maybe the anger gets lost on the road, blown out the window, sinking to the bottom of the everglades.
a little girl was splashing at my feet, maybe six years old and beautiful. “momma, is that a magic lady?” she asked when I walked by. I turned to her and it was written on my face, locked in my eyes, seeping though my skin, “I’m fucking magic, baby, don’t you worry.”
I remember when you took me to see snow, flew me all the way to Breckenridge. It was late when we landed and I fell asleep in the car while we drove up the mountain. I remember you shaking me awake in a Denny’s parking lot. “it’s snowing.” I was still in that dream fog when I opened my eyes, standing in snow for the first time and nothing felt real. I vaguely remember Anthony and Kelly being mildly amused at my reaction…but you. I looked up to see your face and you were just fucking beaming at me. I was holding snow in my hands and you were looking at me like you were the happiest you’d ever been in your entire life. I thought that night that we would never change.
and I thought it again when we walked down the snowy streets, ducked inside of every bar. I thought it again when we hunched over our drinks, my hair obscuring the light, and we drew on the cocktail napkins I still have saved in my top desk drawer. and again when the snow fell heavy and you handed me a rose. and again when you kissed me under a street lamp and picked me up when I fell on ice skates.
and then it was valentines day and I felt it again, the strongest time yet. we walked down the road in the dark, looking for a green fairy. we sat in that hidden absinthe bar, wormwood stretched from our lips to our fingers, snow melting from our shoes onto the floor. and I was so obscenely happy that night and I even told you, more than once,“no, we’re perfect.”
If you ever notice I’ve gone missing again, this is where you’ll find me.
on the good days, we’ll play under the fig tree in our underwear and blow bubbles on the couch. we’ll sleep on golden tables and drag our feet through the wet dirt and damp grass, lay on a blanket by the white wall and absorb the sunlight.
there wont be any yelling on the good days. just birds and crickets, and the swarming bees. just the way you whisper awww when you give me a hug. just the sound of waves while you sleep next to me.
it was dark. pitch black, and you couldn’t see, no matter how hard you tried, that precipitous place where the sea met the sky. the stars shed no light, just black holes, as if the entire thing were a canvas chewed by moths, eaten through and billowing in a breeze you could feel winding it’s way into your skin. you climbed inside the tail of a mechanical fish made of a thousand faceted pieces of glass, each one connected to the other by a golden strip of lead, tarnished by years and years of submersion in the briny water. you called it your church and your hair was long, a wilted rose pinned to the front of your shirt. gas lights glowed as it sunk beneath the surface; you said you’d know your lover when you emerged. I waited on a floating dock of rotting wood, in the middle of that dark, dark sea, sprayed over and over with cold water, sitting in pools of it, knees drawn to my chest, hair twisting behind me in tangled ropes. I could hear the glass fish circling beneath the dock, closer and closer, until the tip of each wave began to glow. and then there you were, sitting behind me. there was just enough light for me to see you clearly, perhaps from a moon that I couldn’t recall. and that smile. I knew then that you could see me, too; that you knew me. and so we stayed there, resurrected into something innocent, something pure.
playlist for a spring that’s come far too soon and a winter that never really came at all. for a moon that dissects your heart with a thousand weightless arrows, for paint covered fingers at 3 in the morning.