my hands still burn from the places we touched
a naked moment he swears I’m still punishing him for, as I pack my bag before the next class appears, with him leading the pack, expecting me to sit beside him as always but not this time, this time I’m racing a clock that isn’t there except in my head to leave, just leave, just get out before—
he sees me standing there, stuffing the last of my things (god it takes forever, why is this happening so slowly?), and I can barely look at him, I’m gone, I’m walking to the left toward the stairs, which suddenly appears, waiting for him to make a statement because he will never let me leave without making a grand statement, his love or obsession or something close to both compels him
—before I reach the open partition, I hear him projecting to my back, “There she goes, running away! She sat next to me, and we — ” The narration a cover for emotions he dare not make public: outrage, hurt, sheer panic? I cannot allow myself that luxury. I stifle an urge to leave a pile of laughter, messy and exotic, truant and insulting, a small nugget of caring there. I care for him so much I am humiliated by our mutual madness.
I am up those stairs in a flash, taunted and tempted by his visible wounds. They mean urgency and attention and savage need, feelings that have long left my side.
I was, I am important to him. It is the last time someone spoke up for me. It is not the first time I feel utterly alone.
When I wake, I try to find us again on the radio. The songs are lifeless in my head.