How could you abort the mission without all the necessary info? Not knowing, for one, about that trick I do with my tongue.
You still wanted to be friends when we were 40. You were serious.
Raves. Drugs. That night your roommates found you shivering in the back of your truck. A year later it seemed you still had a lot of living to do.
Girls. Feather boas, leather boots. Cigarettes and hard liquor. Weeknight sleepovers.
I guess I did, too.
For a golden decade you say: You can do anything you want. You meant my aspirations — painter, poet, rock star — but also our:
✓ Midnight plans for world take overs
✓ Beatles medleys, two part harmonies
✓ Spontaneous road trips and band pilgrimages
✓ 3 am walks to the beach (summertime or below zero temperatures)
✓ Me in your alien BELIEVER shirt; you in my dresses.
Ask any sit com writer. Best friends shouldn’t sleep together.
Twin souls, we were. Philosophically, opposites.
Carpe diem/In caritate, prudentia
You were in England.
I dreamed you brought me back a package of sweetheart candies. CUTIE PIE. ASK ME. MISS YOU.
Close. Sort of. You were secretly planning to bring me back some rock candy but you ran out of money. You found me a rock from a Welsh beach instead. You’ll like it. It looks like an obelisk! I didn’t know what an obelisk was, but it must have weighed down your suitcase.
And it was perfectly phallic. Somehow you didn’t see it.
te-lep-a-thy, n. communication between minds by some means other than sensory perception.
On March 6, 1999 you took me to Sacred Heart to get my first tattoo. Two hearts in contrasting colours entwined like the Star of David.
That night, back at your place, I drank too much of the cinnamon liqueur with real gold flakes in it. When I became sick and ridiculous you helped me into bed. I fell asleep lying heavily on the bandage.
My healing skin oozed through layers of fabric leaving a heart-shaped stain on your brand new mattress.
You laughed when I told you the next morning. Thought leaving my heart in your bed was a good metaphor for something.
My foolishness? Like a broken record.
I married my best friend! Some people actually do it. Live to sell the tale.
A year or two after I kissed you on the ugly couch you looked at me the same way you did then. Knowingly. Perfectly still. Silent.
At 5am, you got up for work. I was half-asleep. Heard your footsteps on the hardwood floor. I got up and packed your lunch. Pizza — the usual — from the night before.
You stood behind me, watching, from the threshold. White polyester floor length dress covered in orange and pink flowers.
Navy blue coveralls, green plaid flannel jacket. Morning stubble.
I went back to the couch.
You kissed me goodbye, lifting me up into your arms, holding me in the air for a moment, weightless.
I accidentally might have said “I love you.”
One spring afternoon you were teaching me bar chords.
“Hey,” I suddenly remembered, “Last night I dreamed you were writing a song. Am, C, F#, G…”
You ran to your room and hurried back with your coil notebook.
“I was writing this for you yesterday. Look at the chords!”
Back to that night on the couch. You were scared so I said Hey, I don’t want to marry you, but we should find out where things would go.
You were so sure we shouldn’t. So serious.
So sure I couldn’t take you seriously.
Is that song — the one with the sweet melody, about the delusional girl (the delusional melody, the sweet girl) — a little bit about me?
We should have given it a few weeks, then decided.
Then at least if we’d have broken up I could’ve said, “Oh yeah, I dated him a long time ago. He wasn’t that good in bed.”
(Mister, you would have been.)
The truth in photos:
i. Very much alive in colour, we’re in your loft.
You’re standing, leaning back slightly. Blonde spikes, dark roots. Black t-shirt, khaki green pants. I’m sitting, heels hooked on a rung of the stool. Black Cleopatra wig, magenta 1960s mini dress.
There’s a party below. You climb the stairs two steps at a time to hear me play the guitar and sing.
“Wait!” you say, picking up your black Fender bass, plugging it in.
I’m looking up at your face, you’re watching my fingers. Following my chording, the song, wherever it goes. ii. This scene’s in black and white.
We’re in the hostel looking into the mirror hung on the back of the door.
You put your arm around me and snap the picture over my shoulder at an angle so the flash doesn’t hit the glass head on. The flash catches the edge of the pane, though. A tiny star.
The light makes visible the circular swipes of the last person who cleaned the mirror, obscuring the image.
You’re there, smiling, but I’m faint, ghostly — a ghost — faintly sliding out of the scene. A figure in black coming in and out of focus. Almost disappearing.
I always thought the real reason we weren’t together, the secret reason, was that I wasn’t pretty enough.
It’s not that, you say, taking my hands. I’m telling you the truth. I really just don’t want to mess things up with you.
A likely story.
You say you don’t like Rufus Wainwright then show up at the concert. We find a table and sit with our dates, our cute blonde girlfriends.
You point to Martha Wainwright, who is singing on stage with her brother. “She reminds me of you.”
“You look like her…” Heart shaped face. Full lips. She’s beautiful. Of course.
Our official sign off at the end of every call: Hey, I’ve got to go. But you’re pretty cool.
Hey, me too. And you’re pretty cool yourself.
The second last night of the 20th century we take an overnight trip to Seattle.
On the drive down I tell you about the free pregnancy clinic.
“Lesson learned. Don’t sleep with someone you wouldn’t want to have kids with.”
You listen quietly. Nod. Agree.
I notice you don’t have an overnight bag.
“It’s in my pockets. Everything I need.”
It was freezing that night. You gave me your coat. I wore it to bed. Emptied out the pockets on the dresser.
Condom. Wallet. Toothbrush. Keys.
Put everything back before you awoke.
What were we made of? Possibilities.
My belief that we were better versions of ourselves together.
Your belief that we, ourselves, were powerful.
You, the last man I ever fell in love with.
And thenit happened. That thing neither of us wanted. Somehow we slowly unwound, incrementally, bit by bit. There was a jealous girlfriend. A stubborn streak, constant as a northern star. Ambitions and not enough time.
(Psssst! I stopped coming to see your band when you put me on the group email list.)
Now I live in dread of the day you die. I won’t know how to grieve you. The Magic 8 Ball’s advice: BETTER NOT TELL YOU NOW.
The last time we talked we were 35.I was living with my girlfriend. Finally a mother.
My daughter made us a tea party. Served you in her handmade Beatles dress. All you need is love.
You seemed sad, jaded. Said
“I don’t know why I was so serious about girls when I was younger.”
Nicole Breit was recently long-listed for the 2014 PRISM International CNF contest. She has held jobs as a chambermaid, medical office assistant, elementary school teacher, international development project assistant, and civil servant. Currently she lives and writes in the suburbs of Vancouver.