—And then it stopped.
She took the long way home. Traveled the roads of endless fields, dried from the summer drought. The rains were still months away. The first of autumn baptizing the earth, washing it of sin. Erosion.
The car sputtered, pulsed. She hoped she wouldn’t get stranded. Wouldn’t know how to even call for help. What the answer would be when they asked her, “What is your location?”
I dunno. The side of the road. There’s a field of tall, dry grass.
—And do you often refer to yourself as a woman?
—I don’t often refer to myself as anyone, actually.
—But you’ve used a female moniker in the past.
—I have gone by many names in the past. A couple were female, yes.
There was this man. This was years ago when I rode the bus to Brownsville most weekends to visit my then-girlfriend, Jessica (at the time, spelled Jessykah—millennials, am I right?). Anyway, the man. He wore thick, soda bottle lenses (is that offensive?) and he usually got on the bus with no particular destination in mind.
One night, he sat in the seat beside me. “Do you read a lot?” he asked me.
“Try to,” I said. “When I can.”
And I always could. Fresh out of high school, no college ambitions. Not even a job. I had all the time in the world.
—Why tell me this story?
—Why tell you anything?
—Whatever happened to the guy?
—I don’t know. After Jess started coming to visit me, I sorta stopped seeing him.
I remember the laughter between silences. Jokes told around the buffet. I remember the secret languages lovers have. An intuition one gains after spending every waking hour with someone. I remember the long walks and picnics. How this one time we threw lawn chairs in my front yard just to read. But you didn’t read. Instead, you carefully analyzed me. I remember open mic nights and stages. Composition books with rough drafts and final final final versions of poems. I remember cold nights and chasing frogs. Kissing in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen—or was it Whataburger? I remember wanting to hold on to the feeling, forgetting when it started.
—And what happened next?