My sister and I communicated by means of a secret language we created. Although I lagged behind her in comprehension, we managed. Go-ke boating was when we filled the bathtub and sat in buckets, floating around the tub. My bucket was white with Pocahontas and a raccoon painted on it. Hers was fire red. Mine retired the day I puked in it because I was sick. Then we shared a boat. Then my sister became modest and wouldn’t let me see her naked anymore, so we didn’t go go-ke boating anymore.

We used to fight over who would press the elevator button. But her longer legs always got there first. I asked her what the bumps under the buttons were. She told me that it’s called Braille; so blind people know which button to press. I asked her what the metal box under the buttons was that said SERVICE MANAGEMENT ONLY. She told me that if I was naughty or annoying, someone would come and stuff me in the metal box in the elevator. I believed her because I was small enough to have fit in the box. After that, I preferred the stairs to the elevator.

But I was never a fool alone.

“Walk faster!” I whined as I tugged my dad along. “At this rate it’s going to take forever to get there!”

He walked faster.

I stuck my foot out.

He almost fell. This was my favorite game.

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Exhale

She too has a story, but she will not tell.

She lies on a long bench, filtering out the sounds of cars, animals, people. Her body slips into the protruding pebbles like a foot slips into sand on a beach. She stares into the sun, orange like the pill containers stacked on her mother’s plate. With breaths extracted like pulled silk, she allows the blossoming red of the sun to press against her eyelids.

Then night cracks open beauty in the form of a breeze.

She believes that the night is exclusively hers. Released from the weighted air of day, she breaks through the vacuum of people constantly bypassing her. She returns to the monkey bars and swings of a retired childhood.

If only people could be tamed without breaking their spirit.

Her body seems to have a memory separate from her mind, as memory veers towards a glorified past. Numbing pain is more difficult than recycling it. My fingers lightly trace over her sensitive skin.

I have a story, and I will tell. I do not live with the fear that history will repeat itself because I know that we can overcome tendencies. We self-define. When we are selfish we become all types of repulsive colors. So we shed ourselves and move on.

Breathe in a world too rushed to do so.

Now, our bodies rest on the stony bench as the blue night overtakes with a dewy brilliancy. We are all inextricably linked under the fragrant sky.

Dialogue

He bit the side of the big plastic yellow inflatable raft. So they had to swim the rest of the way and walk the loop back. The surface of the lake glistens like fresh ink, clear, dog paddles back and forth, vibrations pulse through the water. Big dog. Shaggy black dog. A girl floats on her back, ribbons of cool running across her body, running across skin smooth enough to drink. She tips over and her feet barely touch the rocks under. ‘Here dog,’ she calls. Her top is too big and the lake caresses the space between her swimsuit and her breasts. Dog brings shoe into water.

*

Tight muscles wound and coiled. Fireworks of pain burst through with each stroke. There are no pretty blue tips of ships on the horizon. The grit underwater is too far under, the far shore in direction of moving capsule relentless. I sink my teeth into plastic– air rushes into worn lungs.

Breathe in, breathe out. The plastic starts to fold: into itself it collapses. What is the point [of always trailing behind]?

*

Girl floats on back, waiting for the water to pull her under so she can feel the rush of cold hit her lungs. Her feet hit the bottom with gentle weight. She slowly wades deeper. Again she floats on back, hair flowing– endless petals stemming from her face. Tips of toes on uneven surface. This time she takes down a gulp of water. She scares– she takes a few hurried strokes towards shore.

*

Head above water she watches me. ‘Here dog.’

*

Dog is bigger than her. Heavier than her. Dog clings onto her thin body. Long nails digging in as girl struggles to support dog, panting. Dog is close to shore, close to the warmth of sun and metallic rocks. Man tells dog to fetch stick. Dog doesn’t like sticks. Waterlogged they taste like bitter, and they come apart like hairs in the mouth. Paws hit the sand running as shoe travels with dog towards the water and the air fills with bangs of words.

*

Girl smiles.
‘Here dog, fetch.’
And I go fetch.