He kissed the birthmark near my pelvic bone.

“Who else has seen this?” He looked me in the eyes.

“No one,” I said quietly, shaking my head. I thought about my mother and the baths of my infancy, but I knew this wasn’t what he meant.

He became very serious, like a child. The dawn light reached his face through the curtains– how many times did I see him this way? Each, each a different devastation.

“I have only ever been with one other,” he said. Struggling to keep his native words above the flood, they were turning foreign in his tanned mouth. The way he said other made no allowances– we were the only, the human, the living. No one else could have made themselves understood. I was fifteen, it was true.

His belt buckle hit the carpet. 

The song stuck in my head understood disappointment. It warned me, it warned me not to burst into flames when he parked at the stop sign near my childhood home and walked me the rest of the way. 

For a moment, I knew that some day I would be in a hammock, sobbing, and that when I tried to throw away the shirt I wore that night it would take me years. I let myself forget. Forget, forget, forget.

I am not waking up on a floor in New Orleans. I am not sliding my bike across the gravel of his driveway. I am not sinking to the bottom of a swimming pool. I am not breaking everybody’s brothers’ hearts.

I will spend $15 on dud drugs and drive 900 miles away and perhaps one day I will see you again, and perhaps you will be happy, elsewhere, or perhaps one day someone will call me on the telephone, and I will know that what you said to me in that red room was true.