ITS COLD here. it's warm there. we go outside after midnight to breathe until it hurts. we talk on three different messaging apps, keeping up with each remark and question. one is about sex, another is about art, about each other, about our pasts, leaving our mouths shyly, twisting tightly. i dig my toes into the mud, frozen solid, wincing; you lie down on the wet grass beneath your living room window (or maybe the bathroom window, or your bedroom, or your fathers, or your mothers—the images of outside never match the inside). we go back inside, we lie down, we whisper. three am, four am. i don’t sleep. you don’t either. we go to class and crash at noon, wake up after sunset. we go back outside. phones silent. you pray for snow and i pray for warmth.
you ask me my size. ring finger, breasts, bottoms, shirt. you compare the width of my hips to yours, chest to yours, height to yours. you tower me. you could lift me and dive me into your in-ground pool. you promise to send videos of your feet kicking waves. you promise to swim in circles with me until the center spreads and the sides spin, feet skidding the bottom, holding on to fingers, going under. we get mad, we delete, block, ignore. you go out and look for skin. i kiss him. the first to break pulls the other back—head against bedroom walls, bathtub bottom. ‘fuck you!’— until we do. until you wrap me so far under your words that i stop breathing. you kiss me. i kiss you. every night i beg for you to visit me. you have to. you say that you will. months pass. you don’t, scared of being seen. insecurities you can’t conceal with a monitor. i think about you more than i think about staying alive. we habituate each other. send novels. i speak you and you speak me. everyone knows. they ask. we deny. we laugh about it.
i tell you i’m done. you send me a box with a shirt and a lightbulb and a book. i hide it on a shelf. we message again. we pretend love is coincidental. we pretend passion is abundant. we fuck and discuss. we go silent for months. you keep skin like love letters. they don’t need to look like me to be me. you hold them—small frames and foul mouths—and fuck them. refuse to kiss them. some of them try to keep you, and you let them, until they ask. you, a shit liar, tell them no. you know no means they’ll leave. you’re unapologetic and they’re torrential. i tell him it’ll never end, probably, and he leaves for good. we find each other after a cold winter but you refuse to say it. i’m tired. i hear your voice for the first time. it’s thinner than mine. we intertwine our voices into moans and hang up. we call each other names. we talk about lovers. we ignore, block, insult.
i text you and say, four years. you agree. four years. we keep finding ourselves in the same inbox, with the same message. begging. more desperate now. this time i am unapologetic. you flare up, throw names. i ignore you. i find someone else. you look for a girl that can write with light hair and fiery anger, with small tits and curved legs, that can keep up with the filth and the wit, that can keep the secrets, that makes you say yes. they must look like me. you get closer to finding her. but she can’t write. she’s thick. her hair’s brown. her lips are thin.
he’s got a cat and an apartment that overlooks campus.
he tells me yes after three weeks. you text me. i ignore you. he tells me he wants to marry me. he makes space for me in his drawer. he messages me on three different apps. the only skin he collects is mine.
you drop by on your phone every week. i watch what you click on. you look for your name but i don’t say it. five years, you think. five years. i throw your box in the trash. put your lightbulb on my desk. burry your book on a shelf.
i mention you to him. your home state. so lightly that he doesn’t ask.