“Is there no hope for me? Is there no way That I might sight and check that speeding bark Which out of sight and sound is passing, passing?”

I am here now. You are here, too. I let you unzip my dress, and I focus on the present: how your fingers are warm, how the room is freezing and all I can think is that it makes no sense that this cheap, chip crumbs crumbling in the couch cushion cracks motel has such a competent air conditioning system. I hear each inch of the zipper tick tick tick down. I’m still in a pair of shoes I found in my roommate’s closet; they’re too small and too tall, and they aren’t me. I hate shoes in general; I prefer my favorite pair of socks that have puppy faces on them. The blue, silky, clingy dress that I spent too much money on falls to the ground. This cheap motel, I suddenly hate that we’re about to do this here. I want to be in your room to try to get a sense of who you are. I hope you have good taste in music or books and that there’s something dorky about you, like you love comic books, or you love a certain TV series that if someone gets you talking about, you won’t shut up about it. I’ve never done this before. I’d seen couples walking around my high school with their hands linked together, and I wanted that closeness. I wanted someone to know me and to sleep with me, my head resting on their chest, warding off my fears like a dream catcher. But I’m here now. You kiss me and ask me if I’m sure. Laughter wants to come up my throat, verbal vomit that would hit you with a violent force and scare you until the next girl at the next party wearing dumb shoes and a silky, clingy dress. Because how can I say no? I’m still in the same stifling shoes and my bra and underwear, and I can’t just back out now. I was taught to do the right thing. I was taught to smile and find a nice young man and somehow manage to hold him close and have him place a vow on my left ring finger. I’m not expecting to have you decide you want to hold my hand and be mine, which only happens in the movies or trashy romance novels. In those fantasies, what we’re about to do, it would change things. It would end with you saying you loved me, that we’d figure this out. I look at you now. I am here now. I kiss you slow and long. I can’t speak; I might tell you a secret. Secrets have a habit of coming out when they need to stay hidden the most. I briefly wonder if my skin tells you my secrets, if after this is all over, you’ll know everything. We’re on the motel bed, and I want to inhale and see if it smells bad. I don’t know how to describe it, this action I was supposed to wait until someone would bend on one knee and provide me a ring. I thought it would hurt, and I suppose it did in a way, but it didn’t feel the way I thought it would. Maybe my mom was right and the rings and the vow would have made me feel something. Now it’s over. I’m in your arms but you’re not my dream catcher; this isn’t how I thought I would be held. Your body is keeping me here and I know I should want to stay here, but your warmth is stifling, sweltering and making me crave crisp, cool air. When you’ve fallen asleep, I steal your jeans, your shirt, and your shoes. I leave my silky, clingy dress and my roommate’s shoes, which probably makes me a bad person, but I couldn’t imagine putting them back on again. It’d be like putting on clothes after you’ve swum but haven’t had enough drying off time, so your skin is still damp. It makes your clothes seem ill-fitting. Uncomfortable. I pick up my bag from where I’d put it on the drawer beside the bed and quietly walk out of the room. I count my steps from the door to the parking lot. 48. From the parking lot to the bus station. 62. I count the 5 stops the bus makes and 8 red lights the bus goes through. And how many more steps it takes for me to finally be in my dorm room. 56. If I were in a movie or a trashy romance novel, I would get in the shower and sink to my knees and start crying, but instead I put my puppy socks on, crawl into bed, and close my eyes, with no one to catch my dreams but me.

“And catch the gleaming of a random light, That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing” —Paul Laurence Dunbar

She left the blue dress my fingers unzipped and the shoes that made her look two feet taller than the five I roughly estimate she is. She took my favorite flannel shirt and jeans and the shoes that I had gotten from my mom a couple years ago on my birthday. I don’t know how to react; a part of me wants to laugh. It’s what I call a Conan Moment. On the TV show Conan you see actors and singers telling embarrassing stories about themselves, but they’re told in such a way that there isn’t a long pause that lingers after the story’s been told. Instead, everyone is laughing. Except I don’t have any clothes now. And she left. She didn’t say goodbye or even attempt an awkward conversation over horrible tasting motel coffee. Nothing, she just left. I hadn’t planned on going out to the bar. I had just gotten back from winter break early, and the campus was eerily quiet. All I could think about was the dozens of Criminal Minds episodes that I had watched with my family during the break. The dark, the slight breeze, and every noise made my hair stand straight up and made my stomach clench. And of course I was just about to turn the corner onto the hall my dorm room is on, my clean laundry and duffel bag cutting off my arm circulation, when my best friend jumped out from behind the corner and made me scream with my little sister’s voice. I’d considered filing it as a Conan Moment and decided it didn’t qualify, as my friend was simply just acting like a dick. He was still laughing as I opened my dorm room and unpacked all of my stuff, sometimes pausing and starting up again with his deep, full volume laughter. I whacked him on the shoulder, and he promised he’d stop laughing, which he said with a smirk he was failing to keep off his face. He then convinced me to get a drink with him, enjoy being twenty-one finally, he told me. I agreed but only if he wouldn’t tell the moment that just occurred to everyone he could get to listen to him for five minutes. He nodded and later promptly started telling the story, enhancing it for comedic entertainment. She was drinking alone, wearing the dress that seemed too fancy for a college bar. I immediately recognized her from my writing class, which I doubted she would know I attend with her. The class was one of the most popular on campus, and it was highly unlikely that she would even be able to recognize my face as being familiar. I knew her, though; she was shy, incredibly shy blushing whenever the professor looked as though he was about to call on her. However, despite this, her writing, which she would occasionally submit to the literary magazine on campus, was some of the best writing I’d ever read. When she wrote about pain or memories in poems or short stories, I could feel everything she wrote about; I’d felt some of them myself. I’d wanted to ask her out, but it always felt strange, like I’d need to have a reason or a connection with her before I took such advances. But at the bar, she turned her head, catching me staring at her. I quickly averted my gaze, and then after a few moments of studying the menu — coronachimaystellaartoisnewcastle — I slid my gaze back to her and found she was still staring at me. I walked toward her, trying to think of something clever to say when she got off the bar stool and met me in the middle. My only thought of a greeting was hello, earthling, so I was relieved when she said hi, saving me from more embarrassment. I said hi, and that’s where it started. She said let’s get out of here, and, instead of catching the numb desperation in her eyes that said something was wrong, my dumb boy hormones responded, and I said ok. There was a motel that my friend had once taken a sorority girl to, who in the morning tried to steal his wallet, and that’s where I took her. By the time the thought, I shouldn’t have taken her here, crossed my mind, it was too late. Are you sure, I’d asked her, and she kissed me like I’d pictured her doing, and I didn’t think that I should try to talk to her or try to have her explain to me if she was doing ok. I didn’t even think to tell her how great I thought her writing was or ask if she knew me from writing class. I fell asleep with her in my arms, and in the morning, I woke up with her gone. Now I’m naked in sheets that are slightly scratchy on my skin with no clothes except a dress and a pair of girl shoes that are on the floor. I curse myself and plan on what I’ll say when I see her in class. I’ll apologize; I’ll ask to take her out to coffee, and I’ll tell her how I’d wanted to ask her out for a while now. I’ll playfully ask where my clothes went and secretly hope that she’ll want to keep them. I hear sirens go by, and I reach for the phone that fell from my jeans last night. I call my friend; he laughs at me but, because he’s my best friend, will come with clothes and coffee. I bite my nails and stare at the ceiling and count the little dents until my friend comes. 179. And though I feel I have no right to, I miss her.


One Reply to “Untitled by Faith Reale”

  1. You are an amazing writer! I didn’t think I would like the constant flow without the break, or the point of view voice as if I was there–but, I did. I would never have been able to make it work, but you–you made it seem effortless. As if words can be strung like instruments, playing a genre of music that only few have the capacity to hear in its deafening silence. It felt natural, it felt right for this situation where actions are louder than words–like a memory, where only certain pieces can be caught. You made it your own, and it distinctly screams of your voice.

Leave a Reply