stories_


Faggots

In the morning at eight, Jim unlocks the gate to the cemetery down the street.

The trees in the cemetery are the largest in the neighborhood. They keep growing; they keep losing their old branches.

I gather the branches from the cemetery floor and place them in piles to be picked up.

I start to sweat. I start to use my legs. I go three times a week. Planet fitness.

I think so much about the word faggot. How this faggot is in here creating these bundles of sticks. How these faggots save me every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The trees in the cemetery are the largest in the neighborhood. They keep growing; they keep losing their old branches and I am thankful for that. I am thankful that each morning when I arrive, my job begins again.

I gather the branches from the cemetery floor and place them in piles to be picked up.

This is not work. This does not end. This is a relationship and it is just between us faggots.

**


Takeout and the Red Door 

Was there a movie or a book where two lovers move into a house together and there’s no furniture yet, and they’re sitting on the floor, with a few candles, having takeout on their first night in their new idea of forever?

Because this is what I think of when I think of real love. That takeout moment.

We’re on the floor and the house is dark, and there’s just nothing but excitement and the idea that this is where it starts. And there’s love, so much love. So much, in fact, that it truly doesn’t matter that there’s nowhere to sit. Or that the lights don’t work yet. It’s a perfect thing. It’s a hardwood floor.

A psychic once told me that my life would begin when I walked through a red door with gold numbers on it. I still haven’t seen this door. Did she know what she was doing to me then? Setting me up like this? Coloring so much time wasted. (Or maybe I missed it and I’ve been living this whole time).

Sometimes I imagine the takeout moment is the moment behind the red door with the gold numbers. How could it not be?

I’ve lived with a few people in a few new places. I’ve yet to have this takeout moment. I always light candles, and order takeout, and don’t unpack the boxes yet, but it’s never like this. I wonder if it’s a premonition. I wonder if I shouldn’t stop falling in love and moving in with people until it happens. I can even picture the exact room. The crown molding around the walls of the townhouse. A deep crimson red wall. Some ancient wiring across a very tall ceiling.

Or perhaps the incinerator which cremates me will have red handles, like the ones that lock on an airplane's emergency exit, and displayed in gold will be the temperature rising on a digital screen. And then I’ll be the thing that gets delivered in a box.

**


Capital G 
published in Girls to the Front zine issue #10

Miss D’Isabella wore a bunch of silver rings stacked across her fingers. “I feel naked” / “If I leave the house without them on”. She said once.

She taught us how to write letters in cursive on a green chalkboard with white chalk. It was all so picturesque. I remember thinking this even then, that the set was designed so perfectly for my future memories. Like I was already an old woman on a porch looking back at myself at this desk. This seven year old at this desk in an inner-city Catholic School, with broken windows, with crumbling brick walls, with a church at the center of the building laden with incensed, upholstered chairs that made your legs itch, and the unmarried seventh grade Language Arts teacher who lived across the street with his friend Juan, who was the school Janitor, in a one bedroom apartment.

Rows of children fashioned in a mass produced repeatable plaid likeness of God’s Salvation.

Oh, how this mighty, religious, broken indoctrination would invite home in me such a narrative, I thought to myself, even then, as Miss D’Isabella marked the passing of time by looping the top-left corner of a capital ‘G’. I loved to watch her shackled fingers dancing like this.

Alodie’s lips were dark. They weren’t like mine. And I liked that. She reminded me of a doll I had. And here’s the wonderful thing about giving your children dolls that don’t look like them. I invited her over to play so I could spend hours studying her in our play scenarios. How does Alodie move her perfect hands? Let me find out. Let’s paint! How does Alodie role play? Let me find out. Let’s pretend we live outside under this tree and will forever!

On Monday I was terrified. I thought everyone could see how I knew exactly what Alodie smelled like and how I knew the exact shape of her eyes and how I knew that I wanted to kiss the lips that didn’t look like mine. I suddenly felt the terror that if anything embarrassing should happen to me, this would now be infinitely worse, because she might see and then my chances of ever kissing her would be forever ruined. I must be careful. I must be perfect. I remember telling myself. I have so much to overcome. I thought, as I looked at the boys in the desks in front of me.

The plaid kilts reminded me that I should never tell anyone about my careful and perfect plan for Her.

If I begin to love who I truly want to love, then I can be hurt. And so maybe God was protecting me, I wondered. Even though I’d stopped believing in Him right around the exact time Miss D’Isabella finished her long series of cursive ‘G’s across that green chalkboard.

Plaid veins run through me in an orderly web that enjoys very much to remind me of my mother’s religion and how badly I’d like for her to tell me she’s proud. To tell me the God who owns her mind got the memo and approved of the transaction.

The plaid intersects upon itself, creating order in a grid- a noble plan. The lines foreshadow their own parallels and provide another option every few inches in the form of 90 degree angles. “You can be redeemed” the crossing line whispers in intervals to the one I am running on. I trace the lines with my fingers. The faster I run, the more often I hear it.

I think about using holy water as lube. Isn’t this body holy? I begin to not trust my mind. I begin to fear my pleasure. I begin to fear the things I feel. I training myself to like boys. I put a lot of effort into this. I get very good at it.

And when I was 12 and did kiss a pair of lips that I truly wanted to kiss, for me only, the plaid reminded me not to tell anyone. And when I was 15 and tasted a girl for the first time, at her parent’s beach house, after drinking Wild Turkey, I told everyone at school that she was gay and I stopped answering her messages. And when I was 16 and fucked a girl in my best friend’s basement, I went to school and stole her boyfriend because she didn’t cum. And when I dated women, I made sure they never knew me. I made sure they never touched me. And one day, I hunted for myself, a man. A man who liked a quiet version of me. And when I was 30 I almost married him so I could be exactly that.

Yet Alodie rises in me. Like a melody from some distant chamber orchestra composed of ghosts who float in tidy lines, and take marching orders from anarchists who burn churches. And as they intersect, like plaid, they pass right through each other. Telling me it’s possible.

As their chamber songs swell to the surface of a carefully curated life, they cry out for me to claim my pleasure. They cry out for me to be redeemed in a divine sense of self. They tell me the pain I cause others is a fractal of the pain I cause myself and therefore I can never claim martyrdom after knowing what I know now.

I tell them I’ve never known anything more true than this.

**


Slow Molting

When you have a big dream, for your life, the floors are never dusty of those rooms where the dream lives. Dust is composed almost entirely of dead skin cells and who carries their cumbersome bodies into the edges of their dreams? (Lovers).

When you watch me sweep the floors, does the dream end or does it begin? Or will we finally say something true like “I am so happy to be in pleasure with you in this dying body”?

I am so happy that these floorboards remind us of our constant flux, our process of slow molting. That we become new as we writhe or as we sit and sip coffee and talk about your Dad.

That the floorboards do not know who is who as one particle settles next to another. That we become one in our shared discard pile. That I can gently gather these fragments of who we were yesterday from the corners of this dream. That we all do gently gather these fragments, and assemble them into tiny mountains, and ladle those tiny mountains into soft vessels, and usher those irreverent urns towards a cement slab where they await some larger, carbon union via Le Canyon Artifice. That all of our neighbors do this. That we all do this on the same day. That we all parade from our doorways in intervals under guise of the mundane.

**