Thursday, February 22

Love in Three Encounters

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The half-life of love is forever. -Junot Diaz

1

11 pm. Whatever they’re having, you said, sweeping your arm our way. The bartender serves you and Julian whiskey sours. Julian goes off with my friend. I go off with you. In your bed, in spite of the sloshing in my stomach and my kaleidoscope vision, I try, with all my might, to remain articulate and seduced.

I am woken up by my gag reflex; my tropical-design-cheekies are still on and for some reason (thanks) you didn’t try it. Hot dog contents buoy in champagne, all over the white comforter. Then, your frenetic outpour—It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok.

OK. I am picked up, wiped clean, and propped back down like a doll. I am mortified and surprised. But more than anything, I am tired.

2

11 am. My eyes crust open to my clothes you folded. I can’t look at you; I am greeted with a deep kiss. Another one, another.

Damn, what did you eat last night? Was it bacon? Do you feel better now that you yakked? You look like Ariana Grande. Do you want to see my designer shoes? I’ll find your friend for you. Let’s call this number. Here is her stuff. You’re welcome. The feta wrap and orange juice is my favorite, too. I have to drive to Portland. My friends are waiting.

Why isn’t he rushing. I find out later he’s never been that late.

Do you want to go to dinner with me?

OK. Sure.

3

11 pm in a speakeasy. I tell him about the night I died.

He catches me crying after a passionate session, like quasars ripping the sky.

Are you OK?

I am so drunk, again. I can’t remember what I said.

In the morning, we stare at each other’s faces for minutes, minutes at a time.

4

11 pm. I walk to his tenth story apartment after seeing a horror symphony two blocks away. My period is on its first pink drops and I never knew someone could find it so palatable. After a while, we are tired.

I’m naked save my anklets, thick and dripping silver. My legs are swung over the small of his back, his left palm cradles my feet and they chime. The massage is deliberate and steady. The city hums through the window. There are so many things we talk about.

I am ready to go now. His automatic tug, strong and elastic. Words the same. No, stay.

OK.

But now I really have to go. Thanks for your jacket. On my way home, he texts me, “How’s your Uber ride going babe?”

Do I know anyone else made as kind?

5

8:45 pm. There is a boy who likes me at school. We are going to a house party. I’m an hour late; he calls me as I’m on the highway. “Where are you. You’re coming for sure, right?”

I text the other one that I’m wearing his jacket to a party and thanks. I pasted flash tattoos over the curves of my breasts, two crescent-lines of gold leaves cupping the top edge of moons.

The boy from school is lionized upon the sight of them. “Thank you,” I say.

As we later move outside en route to a club, I almost forget the jacket. The boy yells, “You don’t need it” and stops himself from pulling me from it. He almost strangles himself in the torment. The jacket didn’t look like my own.

The other one hasn’t responded to my text. He won’t for weeks.

6

5 am. I am hungover and two microwave dinners deep but I promised my friend a trip to the North Cascades. We are there for a conference and lots of important people are around us all the time. I skip most of the hikes and sleep all day. I look out the window and see a deep blue sky I’ve never seen before. It’s the kind of arresting color you only see steeped in wool—a navy cerulean, flat and rhapsodic like a jay’s wing. The ponderosa leaves grow in perfect formation, it’s the only time I’ve witnessed golden ratio.

My friend talks over me every night. I’m so sick of her, but this place is healing me beyond bone.

We are in the remotest part of the mountains. There is no cell phone service, saving me from my mind.

When I return to the city, there are no texts. I cry, so angrily.

7

The month following, I am contacted and ignored three times. My friends crowd around me.

His messages sound like mass texts.

He’s immature.

He doesn’t want to talk to you.

You’re way too good for this guy.

Stop replying.

OK.

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