With You I’d Dance in a Storm
It was raining. Again. Luna couldn’t get used to the rain or to the way the other kids on the street ran out to it, embraced it, spinning with their faces turned up to the sky. They were friends, she supposed. They’d grown up together, they’d gone to school together.
But it was summer now and she had only met a couple, forced by their parents to speak to her when she was with Katie in the supermarket. Max and Amy, the twins with fiery red hair. Gia, far too tall for her eleven years of age. Tina, short and a little too smiley for Luna’s liking. They were all reasonably nice, she supposed, but none of them had any interest in talking to her. All they knew about her was that she had lost her parents and been foisted on her mom’s cousin, the only living relative able to take her on.
Katie wasn’t bad. In fact, she was great. But Luna still felt like a burden, a girl who didn’t have anything of her own anymore.
Luna was sitting at the window seat, staring out at the dreary day and the kids playing in the streets. It seemed dangerous to her, kids running across slick pavement with no regard for the ease with which they could slip. She was envious, though she wasn’t sure of what.
Their friendship? Their freedom? Their belonging?
Katie stepped into the living room, from the tiled kitchen onto the squeaky wooden floors that were impossible to avoid. The noise drew Luna’s attention, and she tore her eyes away from the window. Katie crossed to where she was sitting and handed her a mug.
“Hot chocolate,” she said, and Luna thanked her and took it. She still felt like a guest in Katie’s house, even though she’d been told numerous times it was her own now.
“Do you want to go outside?”
Luna shook her head immediately. “It’s raining,” she said, “I’ll get all cold and wet.”
“Cold and wet isn’t the end of the world,” Katie said, but she didn’t push it. She never did, just kissed the top of Luna’s head and moved back to the kitchen. Luna glanced back out the window, unaware of the way Katie stood watching her for a few long moments before she returned to the food she was working on.
Ten minutes later, the doorbell rang. Luna glanced over, waiting for Katie to appear from the kitchen to answer it. When a few seconds passed and she didn’t, Luna set her half-empty mug down and stood up, already dreading whatever was waiting on the other side of the door.
It turned out to be a girl her age with hair in shades of blue drenched and matted to her head and a wide smile despite her very wet state.
“Hi,” Luna said. The girl was taller than her, but only by an inch or so. Luna didn’t meet her eyes, but the girl didn’t seem bothered.
“Hi, I’m Helia. I saw you in the window.”
“Okay,” Luna said, wondering if there was something else Helia was expecting. Something in that statement she was missing.
“Come on,” Helia said, reaching out and grabbing Luna’s hand and tugging her out onto the porch. Luna tensed at the touch, then flinched at the cold of the porch underneath her bare feet.
“Out to play,” Helia said, as if that was the most obvious thing. Which, it may have been. For everyone else who grew up running around outside as if the rain was no hindrance at all.
“Of course it is. But who are we to let a little rain spoil our fun?”
There was something in the way that Helia had already grouped the two of them together as a “we” when they’d only met minutes ago. Something that settled in Luna’s gut, something that told her she would give in to whatever this girl wanted.
“I need shoes.”
“I run around barefoot all the time,” Helia said, and so, despite her better judgement, Luna let Helia drag her out into the rain.
Almost instantly she was drenched. She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt that immediately stuck to her skin, and she was grateful her hair was up in a ponytail so it wasn’t everywhere.
She could feel the cold, the bite of the wind, the raindrops beating against her skin. How could anyone possibly enjoy this?
She looked up at Helia and saw the way her eyes were lit up as they glanced at the sky, the smile that Luna felt herself matching, though for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out why.
So maybe it wasn’t too bad.
Helia pulled her into an unorganized game of soccer that most of the kids were playing. She couldn’t quite figure out who was on what team or where the bounds where, but she knew which goal she was trying to score on. And she did, a few times.
The rain was letting up by the time the game disbanded, kids getting called off to dinner. The twins were arguing about who was faster, and someone else suggested a race. Helia grabbed Luna’s hand and dragged her away from the ill advised race and back up the street towards her house.
“So? Glad you came out?” Helia asked. Some of her energy had been used up and she seemed calmer, but somehow still just as irresistibly bright.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Luna admitted, and realized that she had had fun. The cold was still there, but had somehow faded with time and adrenaline, and was only just starting to creep back in.
“You’re good,” Helia said, “you should try out.”
Once again, Luna got the feeling that she was missing something. “Huh?”
“Soccer, you should try out for the soccer team,” Helia clarified as they reached Luna’s house. She’d played soccer back home—back in Georgia, she corrected herself, given that this was her home now—but it hadn’t been anything serious.
“Maybe,” Luna said, noncommittally, unaware that for Helia, that was as good as a yes.
But for the moment, she just sat down on the steps in front of Luna’s house. Luna sat next to her. Helia started talking, then, asking Luna a million and one questions. Her favorite movies and books and music, what she wanted to be when she grew up, what she dreamed about. She didn’t ask about her parents, didn’t mention them at all, something nobody else had managed to do.
“Did you know your name means “moon” in Spanish?” Helia asked, at some point.
“Everybody knows that,” Luna said.
“Well, do you know what my name means?”
Luna shook her head, wondering if she should.
“It means “sun” in Greek. And you know what that means?” Luna shook her head again. “It means we go together. Moon and sun.”
“I think that means we’re opposites.”
“That’s the theory,” Luna murmured, because she wasn’t ready to address what Helia was implying.
It was raining. Nearly seven years and Luna still hadn’t gotten used to the rain, still didn’t like it. Still preferred hot chocolate at the window seat to dancing in the rain. It was almost eleven pm, and she was sitting there drinking hot chocolate and trying to read a book for English class, but mostly just staring out the window, tracing the path of the raindrops down the glass.
This time the doorbell didn’t ring. At some point throughout their friendship, Helia had acquired a key to the house, and Luna had never managed to get her to tell her how. So she just burst into the house, green hair drenched and falling out of its bun.
Luna took her time taking a last sip of her drink before setting it down and standing up, but didn’t protest to what Helia hadn’t even said. She just crossed the room and took Helia’s hand letting herself get pulled out into the rain.
I love you is
I love you is midnight stress cooking. I love you is a scratchy voice over the phone at one in the morning when we're across the world from each other. I love you is your hand on my shoulder keeping me here. I love you is a smile from across a crowded room. I love you is the nickname only I'm allowed to call you. I love you is your face in a locket around my neck. I love you is simplicity. I love you is a hand squeeze. I love you is a promise.
"I love you."
I didn't mean to say it. I didn't even mean to think it. I hadn't thought it, prior, but once I said it, I knew I wasn't lying. You can't really lie, unprompted, about that kind of thing.
That morning, I'd surprised her in Tokyo. I'd stepped off the plane, a worry in the back of my head that I'd be turned away. It wasn't all that real of a fear, and it certaintly wasn't warranted, but it was there.
I'd met her backstage, not taking the time to change, my hair still up in a slightly crooked ponytail from the plane. She was flushed and sweaty and perfect and the look on her face was nothing I'd ever seen before. When her arms came around my neck, squeezing me tight, all my fears disappeared. This was where I was supposed to be, in her arms.
Then, in the early hours of the morning, when we were finally alone, we made our way to the roof of her hotel. During the day, it was bustling with tourists. But at three in the morning, certaintly nobody should have allowed us up there. Regardless, there we were, the wind wipping her long hair into her face as we leaned against the railing and stared out at the city.
Tokyo was still all lit up, despite the early hour. Too bright to see the stars, but the light lit her face, her smile, the way the corners of her eyes crinkled, the way her nose scrunched, her one eyebrow a tick higher on her face than the other. And I opened my mouth, too caught up in the moment to plan what I was going to say, and to my own surprise, "I love you," came tumbling out.
She laughed and looked at me through her eyelashes, long enough to cast shadows against her cheeks. "I love you, too."
It feels never ending. It feels like you're going to be stuck in this vortex of nothingness forever and it's awful.
A cacophony of butterfly thoughts
Beating their wings against the inside of my skull
Some of them want to escape
Some are simple bored and enjoy my pain
The cage in my brain tries to keep them locked up inside
But they’re unpredictable
They are creatures with minds of their own
I want them to leave me alone
Go off and find a new home
But I don’t want anyone else to have my pain
The pieces of me not meant to be seen
So they beat there wings incessantly
They increase the intensity
But I don’t let them go
You can’t know what they know
I want lipstick messages on mirrors.
I want matching tattoos on our ankles.
I want to walk on the edge. I want to live on the edge. I want to fall off and for you to haul me back up.
I want to go places where we’re not allowed and kiss in the street and cross the border just before they find us. I want to get drunk and run from the cops and fall into bed with you at the end of the day. I want to sneak out windows like there’s someone to tell us we can’t. I want adrenaline.
I want cinnamon lattes. I want your fingers sliding between mine. I want your hands in my hair. I want smeared lipstick from when you kissed me. I want to laugh loudly.
I want mornings in face masks. I want shared bottles of wine before bed. I want warm colored lights and hardwood floors. I want spontaneous weekends away. I want to spend nights on a rooftop somewhere, just the two of us overlooking a sleeping city. I want to stay up late and wish on the stars.
I want to cry in your arms. I want pain and anger and dark days. I want hope. I want recovery. I want smiles and laughter. I want to be reminded that I am lucky.
I want to get drunk on the beach and talk about how much I love you. I want to scream it from the rooftops and let my voice get lost in the wind. I want to write it in a bottle and send it off to a stranger.
I want secret rendezvous and outrageous rings. I want over the top proposals and secret ones that are just for us. I want to elope with you and get married at least once on every continent. I want everybody to think we’re insane.
I want to get married in jeans and t-shirts. I want to have gotten out of the ocean so recently that our hair is still crushed with sand and salt. I want cuts on exposed legs, the smell of the ocean in the air. I want my nails covered in chipped polish. I want to be barefoot and risking splinters.
I want to get married in the rain. I want you to wear the t-shirt you stole from me that I know you still have. I want fabric sticking to skin and wet hair in clumps and slippery walks down the aisle. I want bare feet, scraped up and bleeding. I want the freedom that rain allows you. I want only you to be able to recognize the tears streaming down my face. I want the raindrops to glisten on your hair. I want the stars to glitter too bright.
I want to get drenched in a wedding dress. I the fabric inexplicably torn. I want wine stains we will never be able to get out. I want makeup washed off of our faces. I want umbrellas that don’t block the rain but add to the ambiance. I want people from the bar across the way to come and crash the party.
I want to stay up all night long. I want everyone to go home and leave us dancing in the street, barefoot and freezing, but smiling. I want it too be too dark for me to see anything but your eyes, the way the shine because you’re happy and free and no longer hiding.
I want words inscribed on the inside of our rings. I want to read your vows and I want you to read mine. I want my words coming out of your mouth, I want you to say what I’ve written, what I’ve promised you.
I want to start over with you. I want to spend forever with you. I want to chase you to the end of the earth. I want to run away with you.
I want you.
The Black Bird
The sky is leeched of color.
The sky is bleak and white.
Somehow flat and and yet, still alive.
The girl with no face, the girl drifting from place to place. The one nobody knows. The one they let pass by them because she keeps enough of herself hidden for them to know there's something dangerous there. They used to push and now they don't. What changed?
A cacophony of butterfly thoughts beating their wings against the inside of my skull.
you left me alone
you left me drifting
am the one