Trafficking in exclamation points and bold, point pens.
Burrowing between ellipses — breathe one, two, three. Forget me not…
My blood is autumnal but my body follows summer’s dogma: boardwalk wood dashed with salt; bleached white houses and tanned, weathered fingers like the rings of a tree inside the curve of my pale, stockingless leg; the red moon chased down by the thunderstorm at high tide; pruned fingers with the nails bitten off; the ocean playing the chameleon of mother, father, lover, womb….
Downy, light brown hairs left on the pillow at night that turns to morning turns to night and the hellions that I let sit outside my window with nothing to offer but the aging of wine on tongues and the promise that these times will always be right now.
“Perhaps is has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you dont understand, but in the dream it feels as if it has some enormous meaning - either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again.” - C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
I knew that I had grown up when I finally stopped dreaming about you.
When I was a kid my parents had tried telling me that you weren’t real. They even took me to a doctor to have my head shrinked, but he only gave me some candy to nibble on and chucked me under the chin.
“Only one at bedtime sweetheart,” he said, “ but keep that fairy dust in your eyes or you’ll become an old sucker just like me.”
Maybe that’s why you started coming by less and less. “Love you Wendy,” you’d grin, a stray foot doing a dance of epilepsy against the window’s edge. “See you real soon.”
And then you didn’t come at all.
Until that final time.
I knew it was you when I heard the sling shot of a pebble and the outline of your frame — its echo — against my windowpane. I let you in. I always did, even when I sighed and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, fumbling for the pillbox with the sewing thimble that I kept under my pillow just in case that damn shadow of yours decided to show up.
You laughed and this time your laugh was different.
“Oh Wendy, that dark side of mine won’t be bothering us anymore. I ditched him awhile back — he was nothing but trouble for me.”
I couldn’t see you in the …. But I knew that this time you were no longer pacing with one ear cocked for the siren call of a lost boy’s transmission as he circled the block, waiting for you.
I knew that this time it was really bad.
“Peter, uh, how are you?…Are you okay? Are you… hooked again?”
We both knew what that meant. Butterfly-fine brows would knit tightly together to make a point, punctuated by the crack of a beloved doll’s twisting neck.
Instead you just smiled. Really smiled.
“Wendy, the Captain’s out of commission. Cleaned up his act real good. He’s even working with my dad now.”
“Dad? You don’t have a dad, Peter Lost! Your mom and dad were like Bonnie and Clyde. They died in some murder-suicide thing at the Chelsea Hotel when you were just a kid! I tried to tell my parents so that they would adopt you and you could stay here with me, but you remember how that went. After that I was gone for a long time. Well, you know. You remember…”
You turned on the lamp, drowning out the nightlight that had once commanded battalions of puppet shadows across your face late into the night while you popped my candy and told bedtime stories. Time had healed the purple bruises under your eyelids, tamed the dancing onyx of your eyes into a puppy-dog amber.
In the silver-gray light your cheeks filled into two symmetrical stains of rose
‘Uh, Wendy, how much longer are you planning on staying your parents for?”
“What do you mean, Peter? I live here. I’ve always lived here.”
“Oh Wendy, I am so truly sorry.”
You took me into your arms. I leaned into the indent of your ribcage, but it was no longer there.
“Don’t cry, Wendy, I’m going to help you. You’re so beautiful.”
“Oh Peter, you have gone truly mad!”
I threw the window open, ready to walk the plank if I had to in order to dive into the whole, wide world.
The wind was confetti rich with fairy dust.
“Love you Peter. See you real soon.”
And just like that, I was gone.