You were sitting outside the bar on the patio, picking petals from the daisies in the planter on the railing. I was seated at a separate table nearby, because you had asked me to find another seat. We weren’t speaking for the moment: the conversation had been high-tide with an undercurrent I was too stupid to avoid. I told the waiter I was buying your drinks, and had him fill the table with rum-and-cokes until finally he said Enough; my credit card had been declined. Last week we had left for a festival, driven an hour outside of town, just for you to decide you no longer wanted to go. I turned the radio loud to drown you out and you opened your door and I skidded to a stop on Route 70. You got out. And of course I turned around half-an-hour later and found you pouting in the dust the tractor-trailers kick up along the shoulder. We didn’t speak, but we weren’t angry. I had a difficult time being angry — we met when you were picking sunflowers in the park, and when I finally caught your eye you had irises as thin as mine. Your skin was as thin as mine, and it only took us a matter of minutes to shed our skin and expose the blood vessels that bubbled the beauty into our lives. The little pinches of flesh on your arms and the nape of your neck, soft as dawn and golden. You could sing like Janis Joplin and illustrate the poetry of the pouring rain, and when I reached inside of you I found home and the hillsides I’d dreamt of roaming as a kid. Your mother was a hippy, your father itinerant. We had everything in common in a box of mismatched shoes. And when I held your hand I had looked inside, and saw a little black star in a palm full of rising light. I admit, I was immensely drawn and intrigued. There was nothing for us in this timeline. I bought a trailer on the edge of the city because you were the first I could tell myself I loved. You let it last for four beautiful months. Yet I had seen the timeline. I had seen the fistfights and the holes in the wall and I wasn’t surprised to witness my fears come to life. But what I wanted more than ever was to crawl inside of you. There was a beauty there, and even deeper, something darker true. By summer you came and went as you pleased. Days gone to god knows where, cryptic text messages from the shadows of dawn. I ripped apart your nostalgic doll and left you no choice but to sleep in my car. Cry out your eyes and let me find the reason why I could ever be so stupid. Drink myself into a stupor, you drove me to it. Every night for a week listing names of my friends and every little thing you did with them.
But then again, I knew both of your parents were dead — still, I needed to see the blackened centers of the sunflowers.