I drove two hours to get here, but I then only stayed a handful of
minutes. It was late January, and uncharacteristically warm. Not warm,
but brown instead of white, or crystalline, or clear, or dead – or
whatever the color is of that cold that you feel in your bones. There
were little tiny islands of snow hiding away in the shadows in the
alleys behind the buildings, the places that never see sun. But
mostly, the world was pregnant clouds and mud.
I feigned a migraine, whatever that means, and drove home to you. Two
hours in the opposite direction, the way from which I’d just come.
You’d sent me a picture. You were wearing my flannel shirt, and you
had the top buttons unbuttoned, to expose your throat and the soft,
white skin of your breast to me. And you had the bottom buttons
unbuttoned, too, to expose the perfect roundness and smoothness of
your belly to me, pregnant with my child. Your hair was dreadlocked,
tangled in itself, and in sparkled debris, and in secrets. Your skirt
was handmade – black and long and thin and silken. It hugged lightly
to your feminine hips, and hinted, simultaneously subtle and loud, at
the curvature and grace of your immaculate thighs, hidden beneath. I
pictured the fabric of your skirt touching lightly against the
holiness of your skin, and I had to leave. I could not stay here. I
could not be a minute longer away from you.
So I left.
In the picture you sent, you were biting lightly at the corner of your lips.
I was wild.
I smoked a cigarette to calm my nerves. I watched the smoke trail
through the crack of the window, mingling with the rain, and
disappearing at eighty miles of highway per hour. The air smelled
clean behind the smoke, and the world felt beautiful.
I wondered how I’d have you.
When you sent the picture, it was accompanied with an email. You said,
The world feels right, today. I’m scared. Sometimes, I’m terrified.
But today, I feel calm and good and capable. Our baby is hungry, so
I’m going to feed her. Then I’m going to take her out into the world
and show her what warm, wet January air feels like. I’m going to teach
her what water sounds like when it rolls lightly across and around and
over the flat silver rocks. And when I get tired, I’m going to come
home, and I’m going to wait for you.
I pictured you putting on your silly red hat with the puffballs. I
pictured you twisting a scarf around your neck. I pictured your boots
pressing into the mud, and how you’re like an unlikely angel – a thing
fallen from the sky, abused and tortured, but ultimately too sacred
and gorgeous for this world. You, Amanda King, an unwed pregnant angel
with scarred arms and cigarette-burned skirts. I laughed at the
disparity, but not really. Because it was true. It was easy to look at
you, but not see you.
You’d always been so neon and loud and invincible. But you were
sacred. You’re an honest stained glass window hanging in some wooden
abandoned church in the green hills. You’re untouchable and sadly
alone, though not anymore.
How I wanted you was easy and beautiful. We slept naked, side-by-side, moving against each other in our sleep. Sometimes you slept with our baby pressed into my back. Sometimes I lay against you with my face hidden in your hair, and my hand spread wide across your belly, your fingers locked in mine. My alarm went off before the sun had made it over the dark horizon, and we growled together into the shattered silence. I rolled away from you, onto my back, to kill the alarm, and you were against me before I had a chance to roll back. This time, it was you who spread your fingers across my stomach. Your skin was silver in the streetlamp light. And you sang when I touched you.