Lydia

smoke

by Robin Sinclair

I remember a girl I knew in high school,

Lydia.

Her real name was Catherine, but somehow

a movie reference stuck to her black hair and pale skin.

She put her tongue in my mouth once,

trying to figure out if she was gay –

she tasted like cigarettes and Chapstick.

 

She cried on me one evening, and it felt as though

I was the only one in the world to ever see her sob.

It was late on a Friday in June, and in my bedroom we sat on a futon,

drinking wine I stole from a local store and listening

to David Bowie. As I pulled the zippers of her boots down

the sides of her calves,

she described the short Chinese woman who worked at the thrift shop

she bought them at.

 

It started with the fishnet wrapped heels of her feet on my thighs,

sitting with her back against my bedroom wall.

She described a world where everyone wants to be different –

unique.

Every night she would dream of a fire and of her step-father’s shotgun,

and most of her day was spent trying not to talk to herself in public

and to balance healthy expression with the proper responses.

“They expect your face to move a certain way,” she told me.

“They expect your voice to move at the right volume and pace.”

I don’t remember how, but her eyes became

wet on my chest,

her back and shoulders twitching with abrupt exhalations.

“The world wants to be different,

and all I want is to be like everyone else.”

It wasn’t that particular night that she’d kissed me,

but it might as well have been.

 

Years later, on another night in June,

I slept with a woman who’d killed a man.

I never knew the reason, only that she swore there was a good one.

I’d asked her to explain it to me, but she said

that the only way to understand it

would be to have breathed that same air.

The night we slept together, there was a moment when she lifted her head

and pulled our hot, sticky chests from one another –

her left hand pinned both of my wrists behind my head,

and her right hand dragged its way from the part in her legs

to my neck.

I imagined that hand sliding up the butt of a gun,

eagerly fingering the grip much the same as it grasped at my throat.

 

I tend to spend my evenings in June at a cafe near my home.

Most times I order coffee.

I sit alone. I think. I smoke. And I write.

Tomorrow is Friday, and I will bring wine

and think of the people who sit in my chair during the day,

and how lovely it would be if we could find a moment in time

between the sun and stars and share stories of how differently

we perceive the same world.

I’ll think of the warmth of light, and I’ll smile.

And I’ll think of Lydia.

 

© Copyright 2015 by Robin Sinclair.

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