he reminds you of the last time you were in florida, sunscreen-white skin, hiding the damage underneath. skin like the ivory you saw on the elephant on the safari, making you think, ****, they are going to **** you for that. making you understand why.
your sleepy hands dove into his sleepy hair in that sleepy hotel plenty of other people have ****** in, loved each other in. not like this. never, anything, like this. because it wasn’t *******, not like in the movies, not like your friends talk about while you’re looking at your hands under the table, trying not to cry. you are trying to tell them how he is different, how he can carve your heart right of your chest, how you’d hand him the knife.
you try to convey the type of special he is, the kind that lives in the staticky silence after you tell your estranged father over the phone that you still love him. your knowledge of your father consists of 10 numbers you couldn’t care less about.
you dug out the box in your closet, kept for times like this, and stowed away the pieces you have left of the boy, pieces you got away with. broken rays of sunlight you captured in your bag the moment after he first kissed you, the sun breaking through his curtain because it just needed a ******* glimpse of his jawline, the slopes of his back, roadmaps you wanted to explore with him, confetti that used to be pictures of him, of his hands, thuds and melodies you made on the unfamiliar bedspread, ones that crawled into your ears when he played you his music. you couldn’t help but think of his hands, long palm-tree fingers plucking something out on the piano like he knew just how to break you. you wish he could introduce you like that to his friends, all of his friends. this is chloe. i wrote her two weeks ago. i’ve erased some parts, edited them, changed them. added in better ones.
you keep having this dream, where he is in an unfamiliar body of water in front of your florida condo. washing your sunset painting off of his back, pinks and purples and reds, too many reds, saltwater curling his hair. he’s surrounded by swimming babies, babies that don’t look a thing like you. the ocean could sweep him away, if you let it. if he lets it.
he tells you you are beautiful, tries to make sure you know that hurting still hurts when you do it yourself. you want to tell him that he is beautiful, too, but that would be too easy. he wants to tell you to take him to the most wonderful place you know of, but you don’t know where he was born. countries away, and everything else. you want to tell him to take you to the top of the tallest mountain on earth and not show you the way home. you want to say, okay, you have been inside me, now it’s my turn. crawl into his ribcage, sit on his hipbones, and make a home there.
when it’s ending, you remember the hole you dug in the beach, too close to the waves. you are used to living in the negative space. just because the tide filled it in, doesn’t mean there was never a hole there, never something missing.
when you say you love him, not like that, it’s too late. when he says he is leaving, he’s already packed. when he says goodbye, he is already so far away.