A Work of Fiction
Your Idea, Not Mine
Life was really, really good just then, and she told him so. A quick text sent while balancing her bike, laden basket-heavy with booze, snacks, a change of clothes. Toothpaste, toiletries. Waiting while Espy lugged her own steel horse down the steep steps, where they would pick up where they’d left off–positing halfheartedly about the necessity of courtship in our modern day, or gushing about graphic novels and artists and style. Her hands and feet puffed like cotton balls from summer’s sudden, lackadaisical reappearance, dry heat like a reminder, an afterthought. A sigh.
She missed the cold of Monterey, though it had tormented her at night, icing her from bones to skin, a frost they’d thawed with whiskey and wine, with not enough blankets and embraces that slacked as sleep set in. She missed wearing a hoodie and sneakers, loping about in tight jeans, like old times. A uniform she’d long since forgotten, a long-lost She from another lifetime, returned, new and interesting. Someone lithe, taking great gulps of fire water and bounding with energy. No need for food or sleep.
Back in the desert, she’d dried out and sobered up, marching steadily each day from morning to night, lips ever-ready for an oasis of words that awaited her, where every night she’d drink deeply from his well, pour herself into his vessel, waking with the taste of him on her tongue. Ready to move, one more day of drought.
But the oasis was a dime bag, the perfect fantasy a pipe dream, each hit costing more, an escalating risk and a terrifying need. So she retreated, back to safety. Back behind the barricade. The tolls of her dependence were numerous now, throat burned and fingers puffed like cracked wheat. She shut of her phone, just to prove that she could, to control when and how pleasure and pain penetrated her, choosing a small essential vial swallowed deep down inside over an ocean of love, or luck.
He took offense, naturally, the phone going straight to voicemail. Then the next day it was that much more awkward to explain why she’d done it, that much more difficult for him to pool his cool thoughts at the foot of a creature so fickle and filled with spite.
So it went, each retracing their steps backward in the sand, their frantic and intimate tug-of-war reversed. Until they could no longer see each other clearly. Just waves of heat blurring the edges of something they once knew. Something that had looked like a promise.