Together, we springtime saunter through a busy cities with pink dancers and naked cowboys cluttering the street. The buildings are towering above us, but we don’t bother looking that high; we maintain straight gazes towards ordinary people. Lady liberty waves to us and expresses fondness towards our interlocked fingers. He casually wonders how sharp the spokes are on her crown and how tall the real statue stands.
He learned to love himself through me and someone called that misandry. It was utterly absurd so I paid her no heed, but it made him realize where he’d go if I broke him. “I promise I won't break your heart,” I say, but he tells me, “You can’t know that .” He doesn’t yet know that I always keep my promises. He doesn’t yet know that if anyone has to fear a broken heart, it’s me. When he learns to spin in pulsing neutron stars and sees that I am but a sad cloud of collapsing solar dust, he might decide he would prefer to love something a little more radiant than I am.
“Stars burn out,” I think, “and solar dust can turn into a galaxy one day.”
Together, we lie on crispy summer grass that brushes our spine as the sun tickles our collarbones. Our ribs ache from laughter and I know I belong to him as the stars belong to the sky. “I’m glad we got to spend much of vacation together,” he says. I mutely agree because I have no cliche metaphor to contribute. I just try to stare at the sun, convinced that it wouldn’t damage my eyes because I didn’t go blind the last time I tried. “Youth is invincible,” I finally say and I let him ponder what I mean until he puts it in the back of his mind with a long list of phrases I uttered to him, all of them just short of poetic. Still, I know he plans to write a song out all the babble he thinks I mean.
He grabs my hand and traces circles around my knuckles. We’re only sixteen, but he thinks that if people aged backwards, teenagers would realize they were wrong when they were parents, so he doesn’t think high school love is insignificant. They told us we’re in our prime, but he doesn’t think people in their prime are always staring at sharp objects and read Ecclesiastes for fun.
“The others are wrong,” I think, “it can only possibly get better from here; it definitely can’t get any worse.”
Together, we watch as colorful nature is scattered across the sidewalk and piles up in the road in mountains of autumn. Squirrels gather the acorns that we are trying not to step on since we are barefoot. You can’t see the mud on his feet because his skin is so dark.
We discuss how the universe is a place too vast to fit within our logical comprehension, too vast to understand. We both know that infinity isn’t something to grasp, even if physics said it must exist. Since we’re just a little pinprick in a universe we’ll never draw on a finite piece of paper, we see we’re lonely people staring at lonely stars. “All we can do is hope that company of others will prevent all this loneliness from consuming us all,” he says and I’m impressed, so I say, “I’ve learned that it is possible to find the right company.” He smiles because he thinks I mean him, and maybe I do.
“I love him,” I think, “and I’m lucky that he somehow loves me too, even if we can’t understand love.”
Together, we jog to the place where the moonlight shimmers in melodic zigzags over the bronzing sea and the night is thinner than it is in the city of a million lights. Our jaws are clenched because breathing heavily in the cold is painful to our chins. He tells me secrets and the words empty from his throat into the atmosphere, where the water in his breath freezes into the night. “You’re a dragon,” I say, but I mean, “Winter is turning your voice to smoke.” As always, he doesn’t understand what I mean, but I have learned not to worry about it. He says, “You’re also a dragon,” and he means, “We have a lot in common.” I’m sorry that he doesn’t understand me the way I’ve learned to understand him.
He litters the air with secretive water droplets; the night gets thicker with his words. I want to tell him that I’ve never cared about a person more than I care for him, but I’ve learned to say nothing explicitly, because the art of finding metaphors in the simplicity of meaningless chatter is what convinced me that he cares about me.
“He can play the same treasure hunt that I played,” I think, “and when he wins, he’ll be the happiest person in the world.”