joshua's height in years

i.

when i am seven, he is eight- although we are both seven really, the number just doesn't suit him very well. and we are tanned with yellow skin and sitting on his back porch, swallowing the sun in big gulps because it's disappearing quickly. and he shields my eyes from the glare with the back of his hand, twitches because bright colours turn his stomach.
when i am seven, he is eight. imagine the difference in number of sunsets.

ii.

when i am eleven, he is thirteen- writes the quadratic formula on the back of his hand in pink marker, shows me how to play the national anthem with a pair of chopsticks and an old margarine container. and his parents line us up along the basement wall, trace equal lines just above our heads and don't notice the heels of my feet as i push them up the wall, slowly crawling skywards.
when i am eleven, he is thirteen. imagine the difference in number of inches.

iii.

when i am thirteen, he is eleven- sees reflections in my faces, people who aren't really me and when he talks to me, he is really talking to them. he touches my fingers because he thinks i am the girl that he's been waiting
for - long black hair, slanted eyes, age eighteen. and his parents think he's doing drugs, but i know that he's just different.
when i am thirteen, he is eleven. imagine the difference in number of saturday nights.

iv.

when i am seventeen, he is seven- a figure folded in the corner of his parents' basement, tongue pressed against the wall. and the pink pills scattered across the floor are drugs, but the kind that his mom and dad can buy and the ones that he won't take. and standing above him, my body blocks out the light and i become an evening shadow to him, his eyes struggling to see me. i can see him.
and when i am seventeen, he is seven. imagine the difference in number of light years.