You will think of him in the winter.
His arms warm around your back and his breath hot in your ear.
His dark brown eyes glistened in the lights hanging from buildings downtown and his coat wrapped tightly around his waist.
He looked at you and he smiled and his teeth matched the snowfall. White. Hard.
He was late to every date you went on, he dragged his feet when he walked, and he never introduced you to his friends. He tried to cage you. He tried to stick you in his pocket and he tried to only pull you out when he needed you. You knew it was too much. You knew he was too thick, too oppressive—and that even the pristine calm all around the both of you couldn’t clean the weight of him from your skin.
Even scrubbing couldn’t clean him from you.
So you carried him.
Into the next.
Straight on into spring. With spring came a turning over. Turning dirt over with a sharp spade.
The piano chords lightened and the keys sounded brighter. You thought the change in the weather signaled that the best was finally happening. This boy laughed like rain that falls on you in April. You know the kind.
You’re so tired of winter days—the monotony of cold, bitter cold days—and the sun setting too soon. So you welcome this gentle rain. You welcome it into your life as a relief. A respite from the oppressive days spent inside your house. Because the sun still shines through this kind of rain and that’s exactly how this boy will treat you. Nice. Even though he’s not. He will still smile at you as he walks out the front door. He will still greet your daddy on the street. They will still talk about stocks and the weather.
Even though you never cared about stocks. Or the weather.
You will still carry him.
Into the next.
The summer months will beat their oppressive waves of heat on your skin and you will sigh in satisfaction. You will finally feel warmth in your bones. He will be your fire, this summer lover. He will engulf you and he will turn you on and he will show you things you’ve never seen. He will make you feel weightless—like when you’re floating on your back in the lake at summer camp.
Every part of your body will be seared by his fingertips, his lips, his eyes. His heat.
The only way to survive this summer boy will be to run. You’ll have to run from him far. Far, far, far. Your feet will beat on the softened July asphalt and your shoes will burn and your lungs will burn and your heart will burn. But you will not become his ashes. He will not destroy you. It will be close, but your burns will heal and so will your heart and since you were born to be a lover.
You will carry him.
Into the next.
You will meet him in September and his smile will be crooked and his laugh will soothe something that is broken so deep down inside of you that you will have forgotten that it was even there. His eyes will be kind and they will match his momma’s. He will smell like home and his hands will be rough and big enough to hold your broken, burned, and scarred body.
His words will caress your shoulders and the aching, searing need inside of you to be wanted—to be relished and loved and taken—will be met. Finally. When you lay together at night, your head will fit on is shoulder and he will tell you about his days and your eyes will close. And you will listen to him tell the best story. About the best life. And you will feel comfort.
You will meet him in the fall.
And he will carry you.
Author: Rebecca Cooper-Thumann
Editor: Sara Kärpänen