"Dream" by Sam Frost

You come back. It’s night and sounds are everywhere, covering your deep breaths. A child plays the violin. Before the lessons, just the strumming. Pregnant woman’s breathing. New life. Pound pound, pound foot on the ground. Crack an egg just to scramble. Frying pan, smoke; fire alarm. Trash bag melts with burning remains. I cry out and remind you I said no second chances. We walked away. That was it. You followed me home to make sure I was safe, then left. Gone. But there you are and my window is open. Curtains brush aside, and you’re in after a struggle between belly flesh and brick. The body is flexible. I crack my toes, pull my blanket closer, strain the seams of gentle fabric as it tightens around my shoulders. You reach out your hands and without thinking I am in your arms. Three layers between us. Cotton candy warmth. Forehead kisses and my memory reminds me of nineteen. Speckled skin on your chest, gelato and wine, veins saturated in cheap vodka. 8 AM classes and love notes. You whisper I missed you. I cannot speak, just smell hummingbirds and bumblebees. Pink bubbles float in the air. Eyes close. You sneak out while I am asleep. 

*

Cold water spasms through kinked hoses. Wet jeans, socks that won’t dry. I press my wrinkled finger tips together and watch molded skin merge like two bodies surrounded by sun. Sun from your chin hair as it pricks my face, the back of my neck. Cheek kisses like horse trotting turned to jaguar attacks. Ripped flesh. That cherry red like first periods and stained underwear, that inescapable smell of lost cells. Those binding morsels that glue two and turn them to three. You used to put your fingers inside me and not mind the blood. Now I bleed on my own in a dark room. Spider webs line corners, deer heads on the wall. Leather couch with no pillows and sheets made of dust bunnies keep me warm. 

*

I grow claws. Fangs. Like a story I wrote at six years old: a tiger’s tail spurts from my body. Flicks and flicks and flicks like the second hand of a broken clock, stuck rotating between one second and the next. Never going forward, but not able to go back. Hairy knuckles and a thirst to kill, smother. Tear out my own heart. Paint it with pictures of stick-children laughing. Flowers and swirly circles. Purple polka dots. I brew warm tea and watch my nails retract so I can squeeze lemon into my cup. Cuticle cuts sting as the juice squirts and soaks. Lick the remains, yellow glops of pulp stuck to my skin, jump up and clasp themselves to my tongue. Drool drops down and lands on the soft skin of my thigh. Eyes close. I feel your hand. Hairs grow on my neck and I curl into myself. A house cat on a cushion in the middle of her mansion, unhappy. I feed myself sadness for dessert because it means I can keep you. Hide you in the deepest part of me. Stomach bile pressed against my skin. I lay my hand over you, protect you.