while trying to write something for lady riss' challenge, i wrote this instead. oh well.


when we're not touching we are different people, mostly. our conversations carry a different weight – easier, more manic and hilarious on my part, more sarcastic on yours. sometimes though we talk about philosophy, and even if our words bump in the dark and then move past each other, confused, i still can't help feeling we are holding hands, across the distance of the streets laid out in a lattice grid between our houses.

this is how i feel when we talk about immortality, the words "seventeen forever" carrying a haziness with them, a summer-sun-drenched beauty. always your back so straight, my hair falling in my eyes like this. always when you pick up the hem of your shirt to show me your sternum, your bones and skin are equally smooth. i can walk for hours in the stifling heat of the city.

we talk about what it would be, our lives forever young, forever about to explode into the reality of daily life in the world. the places we would travel. i name all the obvious sights, wanting to get egyptian sand in my shoes and hair, the sugar of french pastries sticking to my mouth, grand canyon wind drying my eyes when i squint into the sun. but we both know it's not at all about the places. it's you and me living in a park in a california city with a spanish name, sleeping beneath jacaranda trees, pollution and salt water staining our hair until it is rough beneath fingertips. purple flowers fall into the cups we hold out for coins.

when we get bored we move to new york and buy an electric razor, make-up, safety pins. in an apartment with flickering lights, we take turns revealing each other's pale misshapen skulls, discarding the half-dreadlocks that fall to the tile, and with them, our previous life. we trade t-shirts, pin cloth against skin, make our faces into canvases for black linework done in the impermanence of eyeliner. on the subway i flick my lighter compulsively, you tap your steel-toed foot. your thick eyelashes make people question the veracity of your linear body, your large hands; my glare tells people they must be imagining any softness in my hips.

on the boat to europe we are bored, existentialist heirs to some nebulous oil fortunes. my room reeks of chanel and spilled champagne, sticky and golden everywhere; when i tell people i've fucked certain young hollywood stars, you pretend to get jealous and break a dozen crystal glasses, like christening our new lives in glass shards and bloody knuckles. i am barefoot in a white bikini with diamonds slung around my wrist, and i make you carry me over the shattered pieces of your imagined rage. we giggle late at night in your room, constantly amused by the success of our deception, while a maid walks by and hates us silently.

in the tate modern we both wear skinny jeans and i lecture you on damien hirst; you wrap a scarf around your neck and i carry a cigarette holder in my neon yellow purse. in germany you drink beer so dark that i mistake the glass bottle for a soda. we play the young college students, backpacks tiny on our backs, cramping ourselves into narrow hostel beds. in italy we jump fully clothed into cherub-draped fountains, our sandals slipping on the pennies accumulated with tourist wishes, and tell the japanese men with cameras we are recently escaped from a psychiatric ward.

in greece i am your wife, arms sore from rolling out phyllo dough, hands syrupy to the wrist with honey that i lick away; i dance in my heeled sandals in the kitchen, kiss your cheek when you come home, and leave flour smudges on your rumpled suit. in greece i tell you myths to help you sleep, your head in my lap. it is late friday. you are exhausted from a job you'll abandon in a few months. our domesticity doesn't extend to passing out early; we prefer to sit on the balcony all night and breathe the Mediterranean, its water thicker than other seas with all the history it holds. the dawn puts its first fingertips up to the edge of the horizon, testing the damp air. i tell you a myth about the dawn goddess. wished for immortality for her husband, but not the youth to go with it. isn't that sad, and my fingers comb your hair flat against your forehead. my other palm cups your shoulder. i have the feeling that, were we to get our wish, we'd fuck it up the other way round: youth for sixty years before our unchanged bodies collapsed in a heap on some anonymous sidewalk. tithonus withered to a grasshopper's voice, finally, before turning into the wind. if you were only a cicada shriek i'd still keep you in my pocket; if you die seventeen like a movie star, i'll keep your secrets for you. and bring them all, weighing my jacket pockets down, to meet you in the afterlife, to release together like fireflies into the night sky, before we turn our backs and go inside to wait for another dawn, perpetually beautiful, until the sun burns out.