LIGHT PAINTING

“Fuck. I’m so broken.”

I didn’t know if I should reach over and hold her hand or pull her in close so her mucous could be absorbed into the cotton of my t-shirt. We were friends. But friends without touching body parts. As stupid as it sounds to the untrained heart — we touched souls all the time. That’s why I was confused.

I’ve thought about touching her. With more than one body part. It was always a scary thought. To actually do. What if an alarm went off? What if we had to wear brightly colored vests and run outside where everyone could see? Us. What if everything started beating harder and faster? What if she ran? I didn’t want her to run. I wanted her to stay.

Even then.

About relationships she would always say, “Everything beautiful must fly away. It was never yours to keep. In any way.”

So in this moment I do nothing. Out of fear.

She is flying away. Someone else will keep her.

“If we weren’t broken, we wouldn’t be beautiful,” I tell her.

I tell her this knowing full well she is a whole hell of a lot more broken than me. But I think she sees her brokenness as an Ailment. Where I see it as a Grace.

Everywhere around and within her is light. They say light can only seep through the cracks. Something must be broken to have cracks.

She looks at me with big dough eyes. There is much liquid pouring from her nose and a thinner more translucent liquid trickling from her eyes, which upon action is turning into charcoal stains. I feel like she might be Viking. Or at least her ancestors were. At the very least, she has been a recipient of their gifts. Perhaps their trauma too. Because this Wendy — the Wendy I want to call, “My Wendy,” — she knows War.

Why I want. Her. Keep, her. Afraid I say, I love. Her. Because. I haven’t. Touched, her. But. I do. I love, Her.

I think. If she can show me her wound, I will show too.

I stick my finger out like E.T. Like I’m going to phone home. I touch her face. Right at the corner of her left eye. On the inside near her nose. I trace a droplet along the curve of the apple of her cheek, but take it further. To the place where the hairline meets the top of her ear. There is a whip of hair, loose. I continue. My draw tucking this whip along the back of her ear until my finger falls to the crook of her neck. Painting Light. And then I look. At Her.

“Should we go to Taco Bell and get a burrito?”

Wendy looking at me, snorts. Laughs.

“Yes,” she says.

I take Her hand.

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Heather Shorey

Working the Craft. Experimenting Work(s) in Progress. Interested in Feedback for Further Development.