by essayan hart
back then we wore cutoff jeans without irony, and wore our hair wild and long. i knew you by the length of your arms, exquisite, as teenagers go. you didnt smoke, but you drove haphazardly. we spent long nights memorizing the curves of huckleberry road, driving backwards with no headlights.
its not that i dont think of you now. this moment is evidence enough that you stained my fingertips, the dim edges of my subconscious. its just that these days you drive too cautiously, and your body grew into itself. you married me in thought, again and again, over a stretch of ten years. no matter that i was in love with a woman, and came to your bed for solace from her rejections.
we would pretend we were in the movies. our lover christine tossing her lit cigarette at the gas station, expecting chaos. my face lit with fear and laughter, but nothing happened. the hiss of cinders in a puddle, and we should have felt relief. instead our faces fell, in your crowded jeep, as though cinema had betrayed us.
we spent sunny afternoons at the cemetery with a home movie camera you stole from your mother. along with that her gas card, and her signature. i stole my mothers voice, called myself in sick to school. you were a liar, and i despised reality. the arrow straight path of life in a white, wealthy suburban town. as we grew older you thrived on inheritance, and i moved west.
the last time i saw you, you were walking your dog on 14tn street in manhattan. i had been up half the night on the sidewalk, waiting to buy radiohead tickets. we embraced, and i watched you walk away. it was casual, like all of our comings and goings. you always believed that life had tossed us together irrevocably, so you didnt bother to call. i grew tired of creating fates, let myself roll farther and farther from you, from your bed, the soft white linen.
almost ten years later i can imagine you, sitting in your studio, a guitar propped on your knee. an angry lover in the next room, desperate for your attention. you have sex for the sake of sex, but throw around words like love, and daydream as stories unfold behind your studio door. a slim body pacing and smoking, too proud to knock. when she finally leaves, she doesn’t lock the door.
you are an editor. cutting things into workable segments. creating the same fictions that betrayed us at that gas station in the late nineties. you remember my smile, my ass and my teenage breasts. you edit out the arguments, the disconnection, the bad acid trips and our screaming mothers.
these are livable fictions. the stories that did us little harm. in the backdrop there were the deaths of our fathers, and the grim silences. we comforted each other the way boys do, sitting quietly over a drink, coughing and sighing. there was the crack in your windshield from a thin skinned lover, and the tears we shed when we finally asked christine to leave, after one final sleazy afternoon. there was anne’s cancer, your surprising friendships, and the lies your family told to keep your mother young.
there was the dinner party, your mother and i casting sideways looks. celebrating your shared birthdays, no one guessing your relation, the guests shared salacious details over burgers and champagne. expecting you both do the same, there were the horrified and private exchanges as she gabbed about sex, the mile high club, the back seat.
you were a liar, and eventually i grew enamored with reality. your real estate in my heart lost value, the cinema billboards rusting and peeling. standing here, i tune in to the creak of a swing, and wander through the truth of things. i step off the set, to the chair i once occupied. one to the right of the director. you stare at the empty scene, light a match, betray your sensibilities. you do not notice when i slip away.