It started as a fantasy, like all the best stories do. It started with a promise, long nights conversations / summer breeze sweeping us up in temptation.
I had a dream we’d move away, before my chest started aching / before your song started fainting / and your hands lost their touch while you played and I laughed ‘cause I was young but I wasn’t stupid.
It ended when it came to be the realest thing I’ve ever felt, because I’ve moved two cities and lived five lives but I think loving you was still the bravest thing I’ve ever done.
There was a red light blinking in the distance and there was me playing a different song, counting mistakes / but when the tide washed up you hadn’t changed much anyway. Much like I couldn’t tear my eyes away, while you were looking over, much like I dreamed of a different life. What’s a little pain, anyway, what’s ripping your soul out, anyway.
I got in the tub filled with lukewarm water and thought back on bike rides and goodbyes, not forever, but for a night / how you held my hand under the table, and asked to be excused ‘cause we were being so obvious.
You picked me up and I laughed like a kid, I laughed in their faces, ‘cause more than anything I wanted them to see. The way your fingers digged into my naked thighs, the way your brother cheered as we ran through the crowd, freezing and soaked and young and so in love we couldn’t breathe right.
You gave me your sweater because I was shaking, one you’d found in a forgotten drawer / and I say I’ve forgotten but still I hide in the bathroom, sit on the floor, and think about the fabric on my skin, your lips on my skin, that knock on the door when you were gonna ask me to stay / and I smile like the actress I told you I’d be, I grit my teeth and I think, the sun can’t touch me here.
I have a different name, now, one you haven’t heard of. I move to different rhythms, move to foreign cities, find myself pretending. Sometimes for a living, sometimes for the hell of it.
There’s arms ‘round my shoulders and fingers in my hair. There’s eyes on me now, there’s an ache in my chest / persistent, like it wants me to listen.
He takes my hand and drags me through the crowd, through the mass of bodies stuck together by sweat, and music, and the fact that we’re all out here looking for something, staying for nothing, crying for everything.
It's hurried, and frenzied, and there’s nothing romantic / about it. But it’s real and it’s happening and it’s better than the three before him.
I’ve changed my tune, too, you wouldn’t believe.
I breathe in and out a couple of times, and I start shivering because my legs are cold and my face exposed. One, two, three buttons. Let’s make it all up, pretend we were out there all along, there in the lights where the magic happens.
“Are you staying?” He beams, bright and hopeful.
“I’m going.” I say, before I can regret it.
“Let me walk you out. Strange city, wouldn’t want you to get lost.”
I tell him, “You don’t sound like you’re from here yourself.”
“Seattle, moved a few years ago.” A pause. Then, “It’s the place to be, isn’t it?”
Four, five, six buttons. This is where the magic happens.
“I guess it is. Maybe next time I’ll see you on the big screen.”
Something flashes across his eyes, and I almost ask about it. Almost.
“When was the last time you had an epiphany?”, you asked all those years ago.
I think I knew all along. Even though it hurt, even though I couldn’t see, even though she was staring right at me / while you kissed the side of my face and I prayed for closure when all I wanted was another day.
You felt like butterflies in my veins. And home, you felt like home.