This city no longer electrifies me. Trains are just side-winding skyscrapers, repeated like grey suits on a grey sidewalk. There used to be shocks in the skids and collisions – now I’m biting on powerlines for the jolt that I need. Rolling traffic over my toes to make sure I feel it go past. Each zip code refuses me. I know the rhythms of traffic lights like my mother’s heartbeat and your face is one I’ve seen a million times before.
When I said I needed help moving
I was talking about boxes
But also your hands and my hips.
The sex was incidental, compared to what happened next. Compared to what happened when I put on my clothes and said I was going to leave, and he said with his hands, stay. He stroked my hair and the feeling of his palm on my forehead said, stay. He ran his fingers across my arms, down my back, behind my ears, over my knuckles, as if he might only have this chance to touch these parts of me, as if this might be the last time and he would have to remember it all in case I disappeared and he had to reconstruct me, and his fingers running across my electric skin said, stay.
It’s a sunny day when I rear-end your car and you come out to meet me to get my details. I notice that you delicately brush my hand for just a touch too long and as I write down my name and number on the receipt for dry cleaning you hand me I can feel you staring at me, at my hands, at my face, my undone shoelaces, and I can smell fresh petrol that has accidentally splashed on you. I nervously misspell my own name and give you the paper. You say, “I’m glad we ran in to each other.”
I took a dive under and through a wave, arching my back as I exploded at the top of it and flew backwards, falling on to its crest as it broke beneath me. The wave crashed in to the shore and tickled the dry sand, and then rushed back towards me.
As I touched my feet to the sand I felt my ankles dragging forward, water hands wrapped around them and tugging. The wave disappeared back to sea, to wander back in to the faraway parts of the ocean, to bounce off another shoreline and in to another girl’s arms.
She comes out of the ocean and later lays her head on his chest, her hair all fanned out across it. Her skin tastes salty from sea, and sweat, and she listens to his chest like a conch, for the sounds of waves breaking or softer, a heartbeat.