I remember your Jeep, lipstick-red and volume up, the feeling of you gunning it under my seat, speeding over the lake extending endless on either side of the one-lane road. The sunset painted the sky pink, and I remember thinking this is perfect, he is perfect, life is perfect (and really believing it).
I remember rewriting your papers, your suspect freckle, hours at the Sonic Drive-In.
I remember brain freezes.
I remember “Lovers in the Parking Lot” exploding into the night on that rocky shore and dancing, your hands on my ass, my hips, my face, and then your lips on mine as we swayed to the break-up song. Barefoot, the feeling of dirt turning under my toes brings me back to the moment we spun, and I remember that was the night you told me you loved me.
I remember studying my shadowy reflection in the white tiles of the bathroom at the diner where you worked, thanking the inventor of urinals as I relieved myself.
I remember the way you looked in my clothes, and in angry shouting matches, and in bed, still sleeping.
I remember the feeling that I don’t deserve you.
I imagine a conversation between two paralegals working at the shared office of my parent’s lawyers (Valentine’s Day, 2004):
One might say, “Signing divorce papers today is a bit dark, don’t you think?”
In response: “I can’t believe they brought the kids.”
“I can’t believe they can be in the same room.”
Maybe one says, “He’s slick,” referring to my father’s charm, laid on thick, “Gave some story about how sick he is over people he lost in the city three years ago.”
“She said he’d do that,” the other might reply, “She cried in the office, told us what he’d say, how he’d act—”
“Him too. Did she tell you about the lovers?”
“The women. Definitely, they sent him letters—”
“Letters. To the house. The women sent letters to their house—did he tell you about that?”
Maybe, then, a moment of silence.
Perhaps the one who works for my mother says, “Did you know she paid off all of his debt?” or maybe, “What about the drugs?” or maybe, “She moved to Nashua for him.” or maybe, “He lied about everything.”
And the one who works for my father might reply, “Hearsay,” because those parts aren’t entirely clear, not even fifteen years later.
It’s likely one of them said, “She’s kind of a bitch,” but I like to think that the other would respond, “Wouldn’t you be?”
“She’ll get custody. He’ll get just weekends.”
“He’s playing the victim.”
“It’s not working—she’s taking the kids, she’s going to Texas, she’s starting over.”
Then, maybe: “Three kids. Damn.”
Lights up: The sound of a cheap headboard banging against paint, or maybe wallpaper, and, in harmony, the grunts of what could be grainy, mustached porn but is, in fact, a well-muscled, taut-skinned 22-year-old pushing his way towards orgasm the way one pushes through the crowd of a high-school football game; he is cheering himself on.
The set is equally cheap-looking, as one might expect; the room overflows, clothes everywhere, seemingly creeping in on the “lovers” and there is no light except for the not-quite-black blackness of a TV screen left on with nothing on, idly and dimly illuminating the two boys (old enough)—not all of them, but parts. If there was more light, half-crushed cans of Diet Dr. Pepper and off-brand Ziploc baggies that used to hold weed could be seen taking up space where gym shorts or video game equipment doesn’t.
One of the boys—the bottom—his head is buried in a pillow (not clean), ankle tangled in the cord of a controller, heart and soul and mind and pride waiting outside the door. The other boy, the top, doesn’t know that 1,400 miles from there is Caleb, crying over the last fight or drinking it away or maybe he’s already forgotten the bottom’s name.
There are three posters on the only visible wall: a bikinied supermodel, a soccer player (mid-kick), and Michael Phelps, speedo-clad, glistening.
What love stories have you collected? Tell us in the comments.
Image Credit: Flickr