Us

by Annie Lemberg

 

Making change for a dollar in the hallway without learning names. Meeting eyes across a classroom at 9 AM, one year later. “You know Mark?” Walking down the rain-slicked street side- by-side, hands in pockets like they’re sewn to the lining.

 

Autumn flipping the world upside-down, a flood of chill. One of us turning politely as the other changes into a warmer sweater. You said, “Maybe I would’ve said yes if he’d just come out and asked.” You said, “I never wanna sleep with another man as long as I live.”

 

Drinking wine. Showing up late to the party. One string of lights draped across the porch like a clothesline of stars. The side of your face, glowing like a half-moon. Holding breath. Saying nothing. Saying goodnight.

 

Seeing other people. Doing cocaine. Another year passing in a night without sleep. Counting the miles between Michigan and Costa Rica, in the summer, upside-down again. Saying I feel so alone and nothing more.

 

The sunset in the upstairs window. The arms of the November tree-line, stripped bare and reaching upward, as if to pop the sky and let all the red light pour out. Hands smoothing bedsheets and you, in the yellow chair, too far away for me to touch. Counting backwards from three. In the distance, the sound of a highway. A truck chewing tar. One thing barreling toward another.

 

Kissing in the blue light-bath of a digital billboard. Telling each other that this won’t be complicated and in silence, repeating the words like a prayer—something neither of us can believe.

Annie Lemberg is a fiction writer and poet studying at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her work is heavily influenced by the autobiographical, drawing on topics of chronic illness, sexuality, and love in a physical body that can be as much a challenge to inhabit as it can to understand.

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May 2018

© 2020 by The Esthetic Apostle