ME AND ZOE
I love men on roofs-chimney guys and roofers-and women, when I see them. I took Zoe to a roof once. We stood up there, we saw those who saw us. We screamed our names and just then, in that moment, we were Gods. Those kids on the ground, they knew it too. She used to rest her head on my lap like a head on a silver plate. John the Baptist or some such martyr-type. I can't believe I used to think that and the way I think about her now. If I could call for the angels dressed as dragons to breathe fire and burn her out of my head... this town we're from is quite a hole. All the kids are addicts. Meth, metal, thunder-they dream of train crossings and play in the rain. There's a trellis here. That's what we call the old bridge. Hanging-out all topsy-turvy like. I have known it my whole life. The town, Zoe, John the Baptist.
You can't help it when you're from such a place. We've got good cocaine, not-so-good pot, too much crack. I didn't notice my first boyfriend was a drunk. John Painter strapped a six-pack to his back with tent rope at a lake party. He jumped in and no one asked where he was going. He wasn't my boyfriend, just some guy I fooled around with on the weekends, but it's all the same. When Zoe and I didn't meet here, I watched stars falling like slow streams crossing, kids wrecking each other in their cars and the trains. The whistle-blow in the night was like a reverse-alarm clock, reminding me it's time to sleep. Tomorrow is coming, head it off at the pass.
It wasn't dread really. The new day and all that. It was the drain of it all. The number of steps to the bathroom, the kitchen, the car, the school. Down the hall, to the next class, back home. It didn't compare to nights on the roof outside my window. That boy from down the street climbing up. Talked me into his myth-some cosmic steed in my little Ben Hur classic. Or these girls that tied me up in their shoplifted scarves and whipped-creamed me from head-to-toe, licked it off for show. My sister's friends stealing local yard art-lion statues, carousel horses, pink swans-and filling the bottom of the pool. We called the police when we thought the guy in our pool was dead. He was a stolen dummy from the fire department.
He still looked dead. And I would know. We all know what dead looks like. The bunny Zoe hit with the car. We were fighting and she was speeding. We had to take it to the Creek. Bury it sort-of. The Creek was all the ceremony we could afford in our little lives. We abandoned the churches-Baptist, Episcopal, a Catholic. Made up this drama and served it up to each other. Everything was terribly difficult, orchestrated, obsessive. This friend fucking that friend and there was always a love, a lost love, an attraction. My God. And then the dead themselves: the guy beside me in every yearbook picture, my sister's best friend, everybody's little brother, the rock star. Dead looks like us and that's what really gets us. And there is that want, that weird easiness of it all. There is the gun and the asphyxiation and the hope of a jammed pack funeral that is both fun and full of crying. We still don't know what we want.
I first saw Zoe when her brother died. He was my roommate for a time. There were leaves falling like birds rising in a kettle of hot air. All swirl in the sunshine. It was February. The old man and the old rugged cross, the Bikers for Jesus and HIV. It's too much really. Zoe and her girlfriend stayed with me. We drank too much and danced a little. She was naked in the morning. For a moment, on that futon, I believed in ownership. The mineness of her body. The sadness will kill me. How can I stop loving it? That was the first time. You can imagine the rest.
Amber Sharick lives a not-so-secret life as Wonder Woman (watch for her in your town). She is in love with worms, in addition to a number of other beautiful ideas, like the Carolinas, Chicago, Costa Rica...
She may be contacted: firstname.lastname@example.org