The car door smacks shut behind me. I sling the faded grey backpack across my right shoulder. The weight burns and constricts my muscles. The gravel stirs under bright blue Vans. The dust from the dirt road begins to settle. We took the back road from town.
You slide around the front of the car to the driver’s side. My back curves into the warm metal. The tips of your fingers curl into my palm. I shiver. I tongue the back of my lip, the rough edge, the spot my teeth clamp.
“Michael, do you think they know?” you breathe. Your words seem calculated. Your bold, brown eyes squint, and scan the lines of my crinkled face.
“They can’t,” It rolls off my tongue, hard, metallic. I cough, “Let’s go in.”
My parent’s house is quaint. The brick is half-baked and warm. The storm door creaks as gold keys jiggle it into a half open smile. A hint of Vanilla dances across the foyer. It’s welcoming, but all too wholesome.
The house is quiet. My palm slides down the white wall of the entryway. I turn right down the hallway, and left into my bedroom. Your eyes scan the dirty cracks in the baseboards. You reach around the corner. Your footsteps are soft, uneasy. My backpack crumples on the floor. Books scatter.
I sit against the edge of my bed. My fingers find the cotton sheets and twist them. A jittery ache creeps into my stomach. My foot taps mindlessly.
Black curtains encase the lone window. Beams of light bounce off your pale cheekbones. The floorboards creak with translucent steps. You move like a bleary mist.
Books skitter across the hardwood as you rustle through my backpack. The tip of my tongue inches across the charred roof of my mouth.
Five tea light candles are exposed from today’s rubble. You cup them in the bottom of your shirt. Your shirt is taunt, gripped by your right thumb and pointer finger. Your chest pressed into cotton, rises and falls, fiercely.
Your arm quivers as you dip down. I take two candles. My nails dig at the silky, white wax around the wick. It stuffs the cracks. It is cool. It is filling. I flip the loose strands of hair from my frail face.
“Everything will change.”
Your bony left wrist digs deep in your pocket. The pads of your fingers brush coarse edges. You pull out a small matchbox. Your mouth curls, and your swollen lips part. You are radical, radiant.
I place one white candle at the end of each bedside table. The cool, sliver case clings desperately to the wooden edges. I know it is perilous. The room fills with restless ticking. Like clockwork, you scratch. You light. The flames flick our dim mirage to life.
Delirium echoes from the corners of the room. You bear down with crushing weight. Chewed, jagged nails rake down my spine. I crash back into twisted sheets. A hollow hiss escapes my honey lips.
Your once bold eyes swirl, unnerved. Your lashes flicker, daring, demanding. My wax-coated fingers slide onto your skin. Indentations mark each of your ribs. Muscles constrict and turn.
You glide out of your shirt. Its bold color winds around my wrists. It is knotted, tight. You’re used to taking. You’re used to concealing frail facades. You’re used to the fictitious drowning, filling frail lungs with brackish.
Your breath cascades down my exposed forearms. My skin crawls in waves. White flecks electrify the backs of my eyes. Your coconut, smooth skin is soft. It squirms under my wet flickering tongue. Your nails dig into my wrist. Your body presses firm and bruising.
Your hands kneed my flesh. I am raw and red. You press into me, bitter and biting. The savage rage of secrets, of too much longing ignites in the back of your throat. I hear the blood in your neck, flowing in rhythmic surges.
“It will never be enough.”
Concave and convulsing, my hands fly above my head. I stretch to the corner. The nightstand rattles. Bridging the madness, my fingers tense. Bound, I reach recklessly.
You swallow, whole, and thundering. In raging motion you flick my wrist back, and watch fabric burn.
Smoke cakes solemn creases in your forehead. White teeth flash, reflecting raining ashes. You bound backward. You stumble to the doorway, grabbing one of my jackets from the floor. Panic illuminates your chthonic shadow. Your back turns.
A burning scream settles in the back of my throat. You run.
I search the black backs of my eyes. I simmer in boiling tears. There is no relief. A sandy, cement sleep weighs them shut. I am sealed.
A bone chilling drip stands the hairs of my right arm at end. A cavernous ache consumes. Bleach air trembles scorched lungs. A hollow, clockwork beeping scratches at this new consuming coma.