We eat in his car, parked, light off, radio on, watching the sun set over the edge of suburbia. Romantic-like. If we wanted, the identical tops of a hundred gable roofs in the distance could almost look like mountains, the heat waves off of the hot summer pavement the surface of a cool lake. I squint and try to see but don’t suggest it out loud in case he thinks I’m unsatisfied with the view. Perhaps he really did see something sexy in a drive-in date, cheeseburgers and slushies and a large fries split between the two of us, our fingers and lips slick with grease because the roller-skating waitress forgot to bring napkins. I put my bare feet up on the dashboard as he smokes a Marlboro Black, I’m sorry I just have to, until he notices and asks me to please not put my feet there. He ashes his cigarette on the gearshift and tosses the butt out the window. I reach for the bag of cold fries between us to keep from rolling my eyes; as far as first dates go, this one isn’t too bad. At least he talks. I shove the last bite and a half of my burger into my mouth and am almost done swallowing when he asks to touch my chest. I shrug and turn up the radio. My footprints were on his windshield already anyway.
ii. The Best Gift
For my birthday: a delicate string of freshwater pearls, ivory to light pink. A lovely luxury cool against my neck, a gift for a young duchess, almost.
“My mom picked it out.”
iii. Months After
Months after it is over I realize it doesn’t always feel like nothing. Not that it didn’t feel like anything when it happened, there was the boredom and the curiosity and the half-gentle hands and the soreness, but it was much more nothing than I expected it to be. There was the I love you, though that was more of a formality, and the I’ll see you tomorrow, and the unspoken so that’s it then.
We did it a few more times and then broke up, for reasons mostly related to the I love you.
Months after it is over he texts me: were you a virgin when we met?
iv. Dreams from Last Night
chasing chasing a boy through a sunny vineyard drying vines drawing blood from my weak legs and he will not turn towards me no matter how loud I am screaming his name oh what was his name it escapes me he escapes my reach my scrapes are scabbing over and I hear let him go
now in a small room with a heavy ceiling weak walls and a foundation that is crumbling I can smell it breaking down with black mold and I must remember how to leave I am pacing the rotting floor asking for out oh begging to recall the spell I was taught that I have always known
I am trapped in bed though it is not my bed is it am I dreaming am I dreaming I am wrapped in these silk sheets with unfamiliar stains dreaming strange bruises in places that are quiet in places that used to be quiet oh but now pulse so strange
the boy in the vineyard turns around now that my throat is sufficiently raw and I see his face I remember his name but he does not have his face or his name his eyes are my eyes his mouth is my mouth his name that I scream is very much my own and both our knees are bleeding oh suddenly I recall the incantation I was taught
and I say let him go
He is by far the most beautiful boy I have ever convinced to take me out for coffee. He is tall, tan, half Chinese. He is lean and fit, but not too fit, not intimidating. His voice is deep and raspy, and I wonder if he smokes, but he seems above that. He is too close to his mother to harm himself that way. He is well traveled, has been to Paris and Rio and Shanghai, but remains charmingly American in his mannerisms. His last girlfriend broke his heart but the experience matured him. He knows more about how to treat a girl now, though I paid for my own coffee this afternoon. He is funny, quite funny, and we laugh together over our lattes. I wonder if he thinks I’m funny too. I certainly hope so, because he is so nice to look at, and listen to, and smell. He’s made an excellent choice of cologne, or maybe it’s just his deodorant. When our mugs are empty and our conversation dulls we walk to the metro. He holds my hand, his long legs make me work to keep up. His hands are just rough enough, nice to hold. He gives me a kiss at the turnstile and my heart stops. I don’t think he brushed his teeth this morning. He is not very nice to taste.
vi. “Please Don’t Show Up High to My Recital, My Family Will Be There”
He shows up high to my recital. Seven minutes late, small-eyed, clutching a bright bouquet with two stickers on the crinkled plastic: $6.99, Safeway.
remember when i used to ask you if you’d want to hang out or go on a date like weekly and you would avoid seeing me and then when you did see me and i tried to seduce you you wouldn’t even do that because there was so much more to relationships than just sex and you didn’t love me anymore? what was up with that? you’re so funny sometimes
i don’t know
sometimes feelings just fade out
and you cant control that
do you want to just mindlessly fuck then?
i meant cuddle
how can i convince you?
please leave me alone
Naomi Langer (she/her/hers) is from MD outside DC, attends OC, and was probably watching you on the bus this morning.