“Slowly,” you said.
Your steps are harsh against the sidewalk. Your two right fingers fall into the small of my back. You tear open the sleek car door with your left hand, knuckles gripping and white. Flecks of sunlight bounce from the black paint. It swirls in your onyx eyes. You push me forward.
I slide recklessly into the passenger seat. My shoulders loosen. My clamped teeth release a bloodied tongue. A faded red bag crumples in a heap beside me. I shudder a second, my eyes close, I cannot catch my breath.
Your palm grazes the hood of the car. You step across to the driver’s side. The heat blisters and numbs. It twists a crooked smile on your swollen lips. The driver’s side door smacks shut.
Your fingernails scratch at the steering wheel. You stare forward.
“You did wonderfully, you know?”
I feel the heat rise in my cheekbones. I swish sweaty strands of hair from my brow. My knees press to my chest. My fingers curl around the tops. I begin to gnaw at the insides of my lower lip. The copper pools in the same spot you always twirl with your tongue.
The keys jiggle in the ignition. The engine revs. The steady click of the left turn signal lulls me into security. My brow furrows. I focus hard.
You jerk into traffic. Your thumb spins the radio dial. Robbery Love soothes the caustic cacophony of sirens. Your breath catches. The red bag glints in the corner of your eye.
Traffic creeps around the corner. Brakes grit in anticipation. You reach a free hand to the nape of my neck. A wave of warmth ripples across the top of my skin. My tongue washes the grit from my split lips. The pads of your fingers creep into my hair. They twist into curls. A tight knot shivers deep down.
I feel the knot ebb into a beautiful stain, a satin black. It inks its way into an open wasteland, a raw grief. A grief you have always scabbed over. It’s not as easy now. You have taught me to deserve this.
A dark rush crawls across your cheeks. It curls at the edges of your mouth. You think a minute. You take the next corner fast. You veer down a back road. You always take us there.
You click your tongue against the roof of your mouth. You jerk fingers from my neck. Your palm is searing from my electric skin. Both hands grab at the steering wheel. The gashes on your forearms glitter.
I shiver. I want so badly to trace them. I long to lick them clean. I dig at my own itching arms. I focus on the dash. You park next to a broken sidewalk.
“Bring it with you.”
I unfold my numb legs. The red bag is heavy. My hands shake. The curb is filthy and familiar. It feels like home. It smells like bitter, fleshy decay.
Your breath is heavy. It fogs the night air. I follow it to the edge of the beige building. The broken theater is hollow. It bows humbly at your arrival. You’re its brightest star.
You clank up the rusty stairs. The kicked in side-door embraces you. It’s gaping smile swallows you whole. I tremble a moment. I feel it burn in the back of my throat. I step through.
Glass crunches. The aches of old films resonate off dark walls. You grab the center of my damp hand. The red bag digs violent lines in my sore shoulder. I start up the inner staircase. I step softly forward. You steal each one behind me.
We reach the top floor. Dust lines the speckled walls. The final metal stairs give way to an open roof. The city’s chill steals my breath. Your slick finger slides across my lips. I cringe. The red bag thumps down upon the rooftop. It’s contents peak from the opening. They dance in night’s glowing light.
Sirens amble closer, deliberate and haunting. Finality edges its way under my skin. It crawls like fire through my surging veins.
“We have taken too much.”
Your hand waves through the dark. You sit on the cold edge of the rooftop. You pat the stone beside you. Your sculpted lines are silent and daring.
I sit at your side. I am trapped here in your fortress. I am a character fading into your cinematic eyes. I feel the buzz of the city below me. It infects you. You feed off of its’ delusion, you crave its disarray. You tremble, radiant. I rock like a pendulum. I am pale and drained.
The city lights blur and fog my tired eyes. My lashes flicker and burn. Your thumb presses deep into my throbbing wrist. My ears ring.
“It’s the only way.”
A dull ache washes through my bruised bones. A buried sob wretches behind gritted teeth.
“You don’t refuse.”
“I’m with you.”
Your peppermint breath fills my lungs. It swirls, warm, and deep. That crooked smile parts your feverish lips. Your dark eyes ripple. I slide closer, onto the edge.
My toes push off the wall, hard and assuring. Your thumb releases.
Hollow air fills the pit of my stomach. Your cold sins shatter like shards of glass. They drop. They rattle for a moment. They settle within me, embedded in this cleaning.
Your teeth flash. Your body quivers in a somber giggle. You swing your feet back from the edge.
The red bag digs heavy and deep in your right shoulder.