She wears no makeup and is lying on the rough blue carpet, and I know she used grass-scented conditioner in the morning. I rest my head on her chest and I can hear the air rushing in and out of her lungs; my head rises and falls with every breath. I climb up her body and her lips taste sweet like saltwater taffy. Her eyes are closed and she smiles, and her fingers rake through my hair and then my eyes close. “You are the best,” she says. My chin rests on her shoulder and my stubble brushes her smooth skin. I open my eyes and she is quiet.
It is still for a moment and then all panic in my chest, and I can’t see her anymore because my eyes know she’s every single one. She is made of the women I’ve slept on, next to, with—an amalgam of scattered moments of peace. She has green eyes, and I’m colorblind and I’ll never see them right. She will decide that she has heard enough from me and knows all of my stories. She will admit that she hates my music, or she will decide I don’t match well with her friends. She will leave me for an old lover or a new one or because I never told her.
I move my arm to pull her hair from across her eyes, and suddenly I’m alone in my bed with my arm outstretched. I am painfully awake now and the radio alarm is shouting about laser eye surgery, and I can’t see because my glasses are on the floor and she is gone. I shut off the alarm and sit up, and blood rushes to my head and makes me dizzy. My toes are cold and seek comfort in cheap slippers that skish across the linoleum floors of my kitchen.
I’m awake and she’s gone to the daylight, and I have to pick up pamphlets from the printer’s and there is no cream for the coffee. The shower is so warm that I never want to leave it ever; it is a rare comfort during nights spent staring at the ceiling in between carnal dreams. I breathe heavily the steamy, cedar-soap-scented mist and turn the water off. I drip water on the bathmat as the showerhead plops itself empty in the tub, and I stare at my hazy silhouette above the sink. My hand wipes fog from the mirror and I am there.
I knot a yellow tie around my neck and tie my shoes, and I ride the subway through the black tunnel, sitting backwards as the train car breaches into the blue morning. We hurtle toward the city skyline, and the water below is green and lapping at broken piers partially sunken into the river. Cars line the bridge and beep their horns outside the windows on the other side of the train, and we will all fit into this city.
Lights attached to the tunnel wall outside my window whoosh-whoosh-whoosh away from me. I am still dizzy and have problems breathing this recycled air, and my knees hit the back of the seats in front of me. The woman with pinned brown hair seated two rows down is reading a small book, and she is beautiful and I think about how we will run away together to an island far from this dirty city. We will eat grilled plantains and sip rum from halved coconuts with orange umbrellas. We will smoke weed with locals and laugh on hammocks, and there will be no clocks telling us when. But then the woman shuts her book and gets off the train three stops before me, and I realize we will never. Soon it’s my stop, and I join the mass of people rushing out of the sliding doors. I scuff my black shoe on the cement staircase as I climb my way to the city street.
The air outside is cold and stings my nostrils, and I am tiny next to buildings blocking the sunlight from this street corner. Clouds of steam bleed up from the open veins of the city sidewalks. My chin tucks itself into the folds of my wool scarf as the rest of me follows the stampede into the heart of the city. I look through people and they look through me, and sometimes we nod Good Mourning and force smiles. I want to use all of the money in my wallet to buy a sign that says, “The me is near” from a homeless man; I want to scream my name to these people who will never know me.
The red hand changes into a green walking man, and I cross the street and exhale through my open mouth just to see my soul. I will make the best. I will to try to find her, and when I do, she will want to leave this place with me. I will not be stopped; I will scour every square-inch of this city, and if she is not here I will leave alone and seek her somewhere else. One morning near or far into the future, I will reach for her and when my eyes open, my arm will be outstretched and she will hug it to her body and breathe deeply. She will stay and it will all be there in the daylight, and when it is night again I will sleep soundly.