Literary Orphans

Wishful Thinking
by Michael Dwayne Smith

childrenofthelight by victoriaaudouard

Your freckled hands tucked between your legs.  Skin a glowy pinkish, teeth straight and white.  But it’s when you hushed through the door with your girlfriends my insides sparked.

“You look like a corner filled with lonely people,” you said.

Several days later I coughed and coughed and the doctor told me an x-ray showed a shadow hovering over my chest.  I said it’s just some heat and a ghost-ache under the ribs.  I once had walking pneumonia way back when I worked graveyard.

Another sad party.  Wedged between in a loveseat.  Table lamps burned my eyes so closed them down and black out lying on the fake Grizzly rug facing your cold fireplace.  Can’t figure out if it’s a virus or love.  Or is there a difference.

Your pink tennis shoes, pink handbag, blue Azalea in your hair.  Cross and uncross my legs, absently check and recheck email on my phone.  Around you I imagine things different from how they are.  No daydream control.  My chest feels like a crater you left when worlds collide.  That’s one way I know I’m sick.

“I’m worried,” you said, because I kept missing work, showing up at your place.  Yes, yes, yours and what’s-his-name, Chad or Brad.  I kept my eyes fixed on empty spaces.  Waiting for you to appear in a window or doorway.  There I could see the whole back and forth of whatever I’ve ever done: a kind thing once for my sister, a little good here and there if unintentional counts, more horror than I like to watch.

I switched on my DSLR, circled my lens around you—pink and swept along the plush caramel loveseat, sea-green eyes, spine-white swan of neck while you look away from me.  Yes, yes, it’s true that little tear in the fabric wasn’t there when he brought it home, the tiny rip you try to mend with a kiss light as smoke.  You frighten me.  But it could just be a virus.

Maybe I clutched at the fog in my chest, sneak-watched you curl up in the loveseat what’s-his-name hauled from a fly-by-night furniture store.  Then you saying, “Get up, get up, party’s over.”  But something last night was two weeks before.  Must be meds, I tried to say, Zoloft or antibiotics, wrapping around these weird dreams sparked when you came through that door with your friends, and smolder in my brain days and weeks ahead.

In the dreams you want to know what’s wrong with me, and if I’m “all that” then how come you never see me with anyone.  “I wait for you,” is what I tell you, and I do—your job, your house, your parents’, the park, the doctor’s office.  I want to ask what’s wrong with you that you have to go to the doctor and that you find yourself stuck on a crappy loveseat with a Brad or Chad whatever.

The one afternoon I wasn’t looking.  You stared back.  That was some short number of minutes before the police cruiser and unfriendly officers.

This is one of those times I believe in love at first sight.  You stared back.  You let me lay my head in your lap, and we floated on a plush caramel sea, yes, yes, even with the small tear in the fabric I’m not letting bother me because after all it’s my dream, and this is perfect, perfect, predictable and no loose thread.

I took your picture when you wouldn’t look at me.  “I’m frightened,” is what I want to tell you more than any story about love or the virus I’ve contracted.

I fainted in front of the fireplace in your house, right on top of the bear I half-hoped would get up and eat us both alive.

I’ve seen you through blinds, between fence slats, through car windows.  You and I match.  That’s the sickness.  The fright.  Where I come from isn’t that easy.  What else to do but follow and wait for a chance, any chance alone.

“You look confused … is there someone I should call?” you said, me looking up from behind a pee-smelly bear head.  “The lonely,” I said, shadow in my chest bigger every time I think of it.  You laughed.

“This is a party,” you said, “Everyone here is lonely.  Don’t you know that?”

My mouth wouldn’t work right.  I wanted to tell you I’ve always felt like I was infected with wishful thinking.

–Story by Michael Dwayne Smith Running sport media | Ανδρικά Nike