oh the nostalgia this made me feel. Also, is there a word for missing people you only met once? It’s sort of like that, the entire feel of the piece. Gosh girl.
I’m sure there’s an obscure Japanese phrase somewhere similar to koi no yokan! Glad you liked! Reblog!
The kids who stay with you? They’re the friends you didn’t get to keep, the ones who sat beside you at the school gate when all your friends were gone and you talked to them because there was no one else to talk to.
The girl who shared a pack of cigarettes tucked in her bag that one blue Monday when your mom couldn’t pick you up yet because she was held up at work, and the bus had already left. Except, because you lived in a godforsaken city with its godforsaken heat and godforsaken traffic, your bus was really a glorified jeepney and you hated it because at the end of the every day it was you and this other girl, the one who liked to pull your hair in third grade and eyed you like you were simultaneously scum and partly like she was dying to be your friend. She also liked to steal your things, and you were too scared of her to really say no. Every day, when the final bell rang you started dreading that jeepney, with its plastic covered vinyl seats and the lack of air conditioning. Your friends would guard you until the last three stops, and she’d slowly edge closer to you until you were sitting side by side. It was like an Inquisition, except she hadn’t pulled your hair since sixth grade.
So when your mom said she could swing by for you after work you always instantly said yes. It meant more time with friends, more library time, more everything.
You hid behind the auditorium with its cavernous ceilings and cracked seats, sitting on stone steps that were so rarely used they had a thin coating of bright green moss on them. She asked if you ever smoked before and you hesitated for a split second before telling her kind of yes. You’d been sneaking your mom’s dead cigarettes off her ashtrays for years, sniping them off the big pink glass one on her dresser, or the one beside her bed because those were always full and she never noticed. So the girl handed it to you and lit hers. You said, dumbly. “I don’t know how to light them.”
She bent down laughing, her black hair framing her face, her eyes hidden behind thick glasses and you remember thinking she didn’t look like a girl who smoked. She wore a cardigan over the white blouse and basketball shorts under her thick blue polyester skirt. When she laughed she covered her face with her hands and you noticed that she had a small pattern of burns on her wrists like constellations. But girls, they were always hurting themselves. They liked to carve the names of other girls in the thick flesh of their forearms and create pretty patterns with razor blades and empty ballpoint pens. The first time you were presented with the evidence of that, the girl’s arm bared to you like a secret in the bathroom, the light of the afternoon turned murky by the dirty windows and the rusted fixtures, you couldn’t understand why people wanted to be scarred. But you knew enough, just enough, not to comment.
So you smoked your first real cigarette at the stone steps next to blooming, scentless santan flowers. Then after that, you thought maybe you found a new friend, someone to have lunch with but the next day at lunchtime it was the same slight nod, and maybe a flick of the hand to say, no. It wasn’t the same after, and for a long time you carried that afternoon around with you, her name wrapped up in the scent of smoke, and the taste of tar.
There are countless kids like her. The one who you ended up spending an afternoon with, and he showed you his favorite place to eat. The kid who once invited you to drink a stolen liter of beer in the park, and then said “It’s only because all of my friends are gone,” with a sniff of disdain. You cradled the beer between your feet and sat on top of ugly picnic tables and watched the tourists ride the big swan boats on the artificial lake in the park. The gay boy in big gray sweater who lit your cigarette in front of the convenience store that was so dimly lit that the big harvest moon shone brighter. You smoked with bugs biting your shins and he said, unexpectedly, “I don’t like this.” You didn’t respond and he said. “It’s hard to be me, you know?” Then he talked about a boy and a boyfriend and a dad but you stood there frozen wondering why strangers always talked to you like you were a confessional. You had him in one other class sometime in fourth year of college and he looked over your head like you didn’t exist.
These are the kids you wonder about. What happened to them? Did they still smoke? Do they remember you?
Since he passed I have
Found bees in my sheets, bee bodies
Tangled in the curtains
Panicked buzzing by windows
Yellow bodies on wood floors
bad dreams like birds
roosting in your hair
feet tangled in your tresses
as they bend to peck out your eyes
i tear off their wings
threaten to eat their feet
but they only caw