the rocks are sharp beneath my feet as you guide me across the road. soon, the dirt will cling to our skin. rain will find its way into our bodies and won't leave, and our bones will be invaded by the wind. we will become brittle and old, like the twig you have crushed in your palm, and we will seek eternal warmth from the sun that is stuck on the horizon. you tell me not to worry, that we will make it, your eyes full of childhood and suffering, an innocence so much like my own that i almost reach out and touch you—i want to touch you. i want you to touch me, i want us to touch each other. but we are already here, and you are leaving me again.

i brushed the shells with my fingertips, they were smooth and delicate, but obviously artificial, made to be used once and thrown away. at first touch they might seem real, pearly, perfect, but they're actually plastic, and they've never even seen any sea.
reina maria vasquez, "first time"