We are thirty-four years old and talking about the time we had sex, the first time for us both, bare feet against a window in his white station wagon pulled off Route 13. We fight about the year, but seventeen is what we were. He says we waited ‘til eighteen because he could vote, he says. Because I thought a lot about Nixon that night, he says, as you crossed your legs in the back seat and learned how to smoke. Out through the nostrils is how you know you’re doing it right. The spins buzzing up through your spine. I guess I do remember that part, I say. I guess I do.
I ask him why my body made him think of Nixon and he says I don’t know, but the association is still there. I’m sharp for these things, he says. Memories and all. What was I wearing? I ask. Denim, he says, but he is wrong.
We are older now and he is married. Eight years he’s been with Janet, an ex-beauty queen who now owns a gardening hut by the shore. One time I walked in and asked about vines. What about them? she said. What can you tell me? I said. Well there’s a lot to know, she said, and I was sure she knew it all. Vines—I always liked them, the way they cover up and crawl. I bought a few seeds and watched Janet’s hands as she wrapped the rattling envelopes in twine, careful that the bow was even, the two loops pulled tight enough to make her fingers go bloodless. Don’t let them drown, she said. We smiled flatly and that was that.
We are thirty-four years old and he has just finished fucking me in the Bearskin Lodge Motel. I am not married. I usually take it on all fours. Maybe you should tell Janet, I say, and I have been saying this same sentence for seven years. Maybe not, he says, and we both continue smoking on the pale pink bed. I ash on the floor. I used to use a cup, but it’s like this by now. I don’t think we were on Route 13, he says. I think we were parked outside my house by that point.
Wrong. That night: Seventeen years old. Your parents fought all day. Four spent bottles rolling under the couch and your mother’s hair in curlers through the window. You, in faded jeans and a white shirt. Your father beat your head into the staircase banister before weeping into a fist. As we drove you spoke of forgiveness. The Lord. Your fear of becoming average. Your old man and his left-handedness, the way tomorrow would turn his insides into love.
Maybe you’re right, I say. The house, was it green or blue?
T Kira Madden is a writer, photographer, and amateur magician living in New York City. Her work has appeared and disappeared in top hats around the world.