I’m sitting on the bus going south and I’m looking at the women outside. There are so many of them, women. We are about to pass my old apartment. I am tired. Teenaged Mexican girls are holding their younger brothers’ hands, crossing in the middle of the street. Their eyes look familiar. There are scarecrow white women, a layer of powder tucked into expensive boots. There are girls who hide their eyes behind their hair.
I remember, years ago, a cigarette in the middle of the night.
I stared at her photograph before I walked out the door. I couldn’t see her face, just that body and the tiled wall. I couldn’t imagine the face I saw on the school bus each morning, I couldn’t imagine that face and that body in the same room. Her face looked tired, pretty yet petty and uninvested. But her body, those breasts, hyper-saturated, shower-wet, her body was full of electricity I wanted.
I thought to myself: we will meet mid-way between our houses. We will be the only figures in the street. We will light our cigarettes, and when for the first time she takes it from her lips I will kiss her, I will pull the smoke from her mouth.
We stood there in silence. In the streetlight I could see the makeup on her face and I thought, how can I kiss her if she won’t show me her skin? Her arms looked thin, I wondered if she was cold. I wanted her, but I didn’t want to try. I felt underdressed, I felt awkward, my cigarette was almost done and what could I do but say good night. We may have hugged, all bony shoulders, joints clacking against each other, flesh tucked back, I don’t remember. I best recall her small fingers, casting in the night air, and the wish to keep them warm.