Kathleen J. Canavan
And it was so uncomfortable sitting in your living room, not quite knowing where to start conversation. I cleared my throat. You sat on a shit-brown La-Z-Boy across from me with your wife settled half-butt next to you on the chair’s overstuffed arm. Your sister Molly—my best friend—sat next to me on the sofa under the massive eucalyptus wreath hung up on your wall.
“Brian wants us to go over and visit while you’re here, want to?” she asked me.
“Sure. Why not?” I answered. I never could say no.
Molly flipped through a photo album sitting on the coffee table. I looked around the room and rubbed at my neck with the pads of my fingers, hoping it would attract your attention. Hoping I could still attract your attention, make you forget your wife’s casual arm on your shoulder.
“These photos of you are Brian are really cute,” Molly said to your wife.
“Oh, thanks,” she answered. “I just took them last week.”
“Used a timer?”
I smiled thinly at the empty banter. You started to talk about people I don’t really know. It’s nice we can still be friends. I played with my earring, spun it around slowly on the post. Cinnamon stung my nose and I noticed the fat, red candle burning on a chipped saucer atop your television. Tears of melted wax cried down the side. Whose idea was that, I wondered?
“How long are you in town?” your wife asked with an uncertain smile pulled across her nervous face. So polite. Not what I imagined you’d end up with. Not quite pretty enough. Was I ever worth telling her about? Which ones were?
“Oh, just a couple of weeks,” I answered, dismissing the words with an unconcerned flick of my hand. “Or until Molly gets sick of me,” I added with a dead chuckle, nudging your sister’s arm with my elbow.
You went on talking about people I don’t know and I nodded my head, but I don’t remember what you said because I was trying hard to remember what your body used to look like when it was bare and smooth pasture to my hands. I looked hard with x-ray-like vision beneath the old t-shirt and jeans. It wouldn’t come to me—twelve years is a long time. You seemed broader than before. Maybe fatter is the right word. I smiled self-satisfied. I had you when you were better than what you are now. Poor girl, I looked at your wife, you have to make due with the sloppy, bloated leftovers.
“I’m glad you came by,” you said. “I know you and Molly probably have a lot of things lined-up.”
“Yeah,” I nodded my head; I slapped my hands together for effect and blew out a puff of anxious air, “a lot of plans.” For the first time since I’d come in to your house you looked me in the eye. After a second, embarrassed, I looked away and focused on the CDs lining the wall next to you. I squinted to make out the titles.
“You still like U2?” I pointed to the thin plastic cases.
You looked around your wife to see the disks: “Hmm? Yeah, I still like them.”
“They’re still pretty good,” I agreed, even though I haven’t listened to them since you used to sing that refugee song into my ear.
“Yeah,” you said, turning back toward me. You looked me in the eye again. I heard you command me softly: “Lick my mouth.” The flush that ran to my nipples made me cough before I realized it was only a memory. I concentrated on the bowl of purple potpourri on the end table next to me.
“Do you need some water?” your wife asked.
I shook my head and closed my eyes. I knew you were watching me.
I can still smell you sometimes, an unwashed spiciness that tempts the edge of my memory and makes me breathe deep.
There’s a time and a place for everything.
You’re not anything I’d want anymore, but you still make my skin pucker. And you know, there’s a thing or two I could show you.
Do you dream about it, wondering what time and too much experience have given me? A trick curl of tongue, a sureness of touch. You had the first sip when the taste of me was waning innocence, but you never got to drink. Poor boy, you’ll never get to know.
I have to wonder, what’s it like with your wife? Familiar and worn out? I’m brand new again to you. And there’s more I could tell you . . .