summer in fitzroy

Summer slips through the air, greasing the asphalt and flushing skin pink.

A row of silhouetted buildings in various shades of purple, before a soft sunrise.

When she remembers that January, she remembers bananas and wine at midnight.

She remembers heat slicked rooftops and a perpetual drone of moths that kept sleep at an arm’s length.

She didn’t get under the duvet for a full month. Just naked bodies sprawled over bedframes, trying desperately to ignore the sweat itching at the corners of sleep.

She remembers how Grace’s fingers picked out the chords to ‘Cherry Wine’ on the guitar and the way Henry muttered to himself as he fumbled about in the kitchen. That summer was tea with milk and Weet-Bix with sugar. It was hair slipping out of loose buns and sweat slicking the backs of necks. Sitting in the courtyard, drinking beer from the bottle, watching capillaries of light snake their way from the sky and down the bricks.

It’s a week after she moves out that she messages Henry and they agree to get coffee. Summer slips through the air, greasing the asphalt and flushing skin pink.

“That’s so kind!”

“No, not kind. Just how I feel.”

Coffee fumbles through her stomach, lurching against her intestines until they’re left tangled and dripping.

“Was it a surprise?”

“This time it was.”

“Why didn’t you say anything back in October?”

“I thought I did.”

Her thighs itch and she regrets her decision to wear stockings. The words congeal against her tongue, but she clears her throat and forces them into speech.

“It’s just that I don’t really act with you the way I act with my other friends.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say our friendship is purely platonic.”

“Yeah. I don’t think it is.”

They are both unsettled and she listens to their voices struggling to pin words to the sound of a heartbeat. Now, on this street corner, there is only him and her, looking at each other over empty coffee cups.

“Why did you lose feelings?” She keeps her eyes on the table, twisting the edge of her skirt around her fingertips until a blue tinge is palpable beneath the flesh.

“I don’t know. A few reasons, I guess.”

The moment before a glass breaks, everything is still. There is a silence, resonant in the air as the cup clings to the edge of the counter before losing grip with everything and arcing through the air.

In that space, defined by the start and end of its fall, everything is peace.

“Because of her?”

“Well yeah, that was the main reason.”

The glass hits the ground, scattering its crystals across the hardwood. The silence is shaken, flipped on its head but only for a moment. Then the pieces settle, and the air is still again.

A week later, she talks to a blond boy with a nice smile and lets herself feel desired. He buys her a drink and it’s nice to laugh with someone she doesn’t know. They dance and the feeling of his shirt under her fingers is the only thing that tethers her to the ground.

And then her skin is in cinders, fingertips tracing patterns through the ash. Because his breath on her neck is warm and alive. Her spine liquifies under his touch. She twists her hands into his hair.

Find me.

She wakes early the next morning, goosebumps trailing their way down her shoulder. Sunlight falls in feathers against the sheets.

Walking down to the kitchen, she pours herself a glass of water and drinks it in the bathroom, mascara-stained eyes looking back from the mirror. She gets in the shower and lets the water carve caverns through flesh, holding her arms over her chest. Washing herself is a slow process, methodical, precise. There is order and a task at hand, and every step is done with care and deliberation.

Wrapping herself in a towel, she steps out of the shower and sits on her bed, letting the sunlight wash over her face.

The sky is blue and the day is hot and she is still.

Here I am.

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