Twenty years ago tonight, in the side bedroom of a second-story shack on the 100 block of East Maple, two drunk kids set to wrestling at each other in the dark – he in a second-hand pair of Umbros, she in a pink-cotton halter and button-fly skirt.
The room was damp and quiet. The walls were white and bare. And the gaping void between filled up with shadows from each passing car.
The windowsills ran vile, a stagnant film of dust and paint. There were twin beds on both sides, pushed up against the walls. The buttons from the mattress pierced her back at jagged angles, carving tiny cuts into the left side of her shoulder.
He pushed the halter up above her chest. She pushed the Umbros down below his thighs.
He used his foot to push her skirt down, heard it jangle, and then crash.
Her neck, it smelled like nicotine. His breath, it reeked like booze.
They’d been seeing each other for three weeks now, and he’d been homeless nearly all that time. The first and only date they’d shared was a last-minute trip to see The Cutting Edge. He would always remember that she insisted on paying because he had no money to his name. She would always remember dropping him off outside a party, how he never even thought enough to welcome her inside.
She met him through her cousin. He knew her older brother. It was because of this their friends decided they would make an ideal couple.
There came a pounding at the door now, followed by a turning of the knob. The two of them ignored the noise, descended deep into each other. His hands, they felt like meat hooks, and she kept digging in behind. She was clinging tight and desperate, latching on in desperation.
He lunged forward with an awkward shift, fell inside her with a sigh.
She braced herself against the storm, gripped a pillow to her side.
His hair was whipping fast now, loose strands brushing through her mouth. She kept her eyes fixed on the ceiling, cracked and spotty, full of mold.
She handed him a cigarette, then lit one for herself. He pinched the filter like a bedbug, blew the smoke out with a shrug. He studied how she took each puff, measured how she held each drag. She eased her head onto a pillow, ashed her smoke onto the floor. He waited till she looked away before repeating the same motion.
When the rod burned down to cotton, she cast her butt into a can. Then she set her frame against his arm, took note of his last drag.
She had tremendous misconceptions about who he was and where he’d been.
He feared how things might alter once the smoke began to rise.
(Moving On is a regular feature on IFB)