Ollie’s wrists are small. The bones sit in the curve of my waist. His fingers are splayed out, as if to cover more of my skin. When we walk like this our hipbones touch and make us jangle. It’s sticky out, but he likes always touching me. The part of my skin covered with his arm feels wilted, but I don’t mind it much.
We are talking about being broken. We’ve been together one month, but we’re never apart so it feels like one year. We are still discovering each other. Still divulging our secrets. Each of us has an infinity inside.
We’re walking to a bar. It’s June and Chicago has only just now given way to summer. We lost our urgency in the past week or so. We walk like time has slowed down. We walk like accents floating out of mouths in the South.
Ollie has his hands tattooed. His fingers, his knuckles, the divots in his palms. He said something once about needing his shame to be aired out. Like if it was out there on his skin it wouldn’t be inside threatening to kill him. Sometimes he traces the poppies I have tattooed on the inside of my forearm for Kurt Cobain. He kisses them and asks when I will get more. I tell him when I’m not paying for ramen in dimes.
We are talking about his parents’ divorce and his ex girlfriend. Her name was Tiffany. It probably still is Tiffany. She got pregnant when he was 23 and aborted it behind his back. He has a jagged purple heart tattoo on the web between his right index finger and thumb for that baby. He is more sentimental than I am. If we had been together longer maybe I would have asked why honor a mere clump of cells? I don’t tell him that I had an abortion when I was 18. I’m not sad about it. It didn’t break me, so it doesn’t fit into the conversation.
We stop and duck into an abandoned storefront alcove so he can light a cigarette. The wind is kicking up, bringing with it clouds that look like blue-grey bruises pressed into paper white skin. When he moves his hand his fingers leave their imprints on my red t-shirt. Spots a little darker where our sweat is fighting in the cloth. I watch him as he cranks the lighter. Nothing. He’s got the cigarette gripped in his mouth, his lips a thin line. His eyes are nearly crossed, looking at the end of it, waiting for it to catch. He shakes the lighter a bit. It’s a cheap, white BIC from 7/11. I tell him I hate white lighters because all good rock stars die with them in their pockets. He says it’s lucky he’s not a good rock star.
We keep moving. We pass a corner store that has been a greasy pizza joint, a bagel place, a coffee shop and is now a pressed juice bar all within the past five years I’ve lived here. I ask him if he would ever move here. He says probably not. The neighborhood has gotten too popular. He stays over at my place all the time anyway. I pretend not to notice how much of his stuff has found its way into the cracks and crevices of my room. He takes a drag from the cigarette and the smoke crowds my lungs. His fingers curl into one of my belt loops.
I tell him that one day I want to live on one of these streets covered with trees. That way there will be quiet and moments when I can pretend I’m not in the city anymore. Ollie smiles and stops, bending down to kiss me. He smells like sunscreen and Reds. The leaves shake as the wind breaks them loose. They turn around to show us their silvery underbellies.
He finishes his cigarette by the time we get to the bar. The clouds are bearing down now, breathing down our necks. The first few drops of rain hit as Ollie goes to open the door. I pull him back. Let’s watch it rain, I say. And I smile because I love the rain. I love the relief, the break in heat, the smell of drenched grass, the world in pieces only to be made whole again when the clouds empty. Ollie turns to me and hugs me to his chest as the skies bust open.
About the Author: Gibson Culbreth is a girl named after a guitar. She really, really loves Nirvana. You can catch her on twitter: @gibsonsangst.
Story Song: "In The Light" by The Lumineers