They knock on my basement window. I sneak out through the screen. Two faces, two bodies. Mine makes three. A hint of anticipated disappointment on her face. She cannot forgive me. It was her forehead that drove me away. Her darting tongue-tipped kisses that entice me back. He does not see it, her look away, though he will later condemn her for her silence. They tell me you are waiting.
In that epic blue summer dress, exposed shoulders, freckled skin, store bought black colored hair just touching your shoulder, you sit on the water warped wicker chair in witch pointed shoes, legs crossed, the darkness of another July night spreading out before you. The porch light obscures me from your sight, yet you look up, hearing our unnatural rustling, the rub of our walking, the smell of our skin alerting you.
I follow the cement crack from the steps to the door, left indiscreetly open (television commercials promising complete satisfaction, something sounding like boiling water, Walter’s snoring from the sofa), then to the right where you look at me with eyes that seem all pupil.
“He’ll sleep through noon.” Waking up with angry, tequila fed dreams in his head.
Which doesn’t comfort me. It makes you laugh.
Behind me I hear her sigh a deep, Marsha sigh. Jeremy grins.
Your hand in mine. Dry, work worn skin is what I offer. You don’t complain.
Last summer, we walk like this up a mountain trail. A sweltering Saturday afternoon and hundreds of others with similar ideas.
“I know a secret path to a secret meadow.”
We take it, winding upwards and away from groups of people, families with children, some younger couples on dates, who follow the popular path toward the waterfall. I hear them shuffle and saunter by, laughing, pleasure filled voices, swinging past and into the trees that quickly mute them. A hollowness lingers. The popping of sticks as they break, a tumble of rocks kicked loose, a breaking down of nature, a change, shifting, as we trespass farther up the mountain, our breathing heavy, sweaty spines and dirty faces.
In the meadow, you show me your tattoos.
I trace the serpent on your wrist.
Now we walk past houses where sleepers dream, past discarded papers, plastic bottles, a length of chicken wire you will later use as a prop, a self portrait, naked and bound. You’re whispers in my ears- “Say my name,” Janelle.
Medusa in all her glory inked on your side and down your hip. I turn to stone.