One sends you a flower when your grandmother dies. A single yellow rose. For companionship. Red is for passion which wouldn’t have been appropriate. One invites you into her dorm room to eat cereal when you think you are bisexual. You imagine kissing her, small-town lips in this big city night. One wears a dress one year for your birthday because they know how much it’ll turn you on, but they choose the one you don’t like. You swallow your guilt because you’d never say anything. One comes over for sex a lot but you just end up watching a movie and hugging each other to sleep, which is better. You fuck one outside against your back door while she prays with pleasure. One yells at you once and you tell them never to do it again. The last night of your freshman year you kiss another for the first time without being drunk or in front of boys.
One is a married cowgirl who was once a Mormon and tells you you’re so hot you’re so hot you’re so hot as they kiss your neck and their little dog sleeps at the edge of the bed. You steal one’s shirt that says “pretty boy” and they think it’s because you want something of theirs to sleep with but it’s because you fancy yourself as a boy sometimes when you’re alone. Another one’s roommate gets a cat and you name him after that line in the folk punk song that you both like and the day after your grandmother’s funeral he curls up in the empty shower and dies too. You make her a book as a gift, all sticky binding on your own and covered in train tickets, and draw a little angel cat in the bottom right hand corner of the first page. You don’t even like cats.
One has gorgeous back muscles from the testosterone shots that ripple between their shoulders above you in bed. One is the singular man you touch after the psych ward and only because you want his girlfriend to sit on your face, which she does. He has long hair and 80s glasses and you take a picture of his head laying back on the pillow and his girlfriend’s small breasts while she eats a samosa. Another and another you do in public bathrooms and the moment you’re in private it loses its magic. With one you visit a pin machine where you put in a quarter and get a little thing to pin to your clothes made by a local artist. You pick up the prize excitedly and exclaim at its beauty. They say it doesn’t match their aesthetic so you get to keep it. One is an ex-sorority girl with long Janis Joplin hair and rings stacked on every finger who you had history with in college. You smoke together afterward and feel the warm glow of femininity on her balcony. You had women’s studies with one and you surely studied her most of all. Her cropped curly hair and long neck made you speak a little louder when trying to be a know-it-all. Eventually she takes off your pink sequined dress and you study her for ages in the dark.
One you bite a little too hard by accident and they tell you they’re scared of blood. One is the host of the sex party who’s twice your age and you cause an argument between the organizers when they touch you in the middle of the living room. The next one you make love to in a heap on the floor outside your best friend’s bedroom and the next tells you they actually prefer your friend. Another you kiss in the cemetery after admiring the wet nighttime flowers and one day you go to a beautiful secret swimming hole and you take off your shirts and take a timed photo on your film camera of you holding each other before you nearly break the rope swing. You keep the New Year’s roses from one in the glass canister the yellow rose arrived in but that rose is long dead and these ones are made of felt and plastic so they don’t wilt. Somehow after all this felt and plastic feels so real.
L Scully (they/them) is a queer writer and double Capricorn currently based in Boston. They are the co-founder of and prose editor at Stone of Madness Press. Find them in the ether @LRScully.