You tease me on Mondays; sit beside me on my bed – our backs against the wall – and lean into me until our shoulders touch, and then lean back. When you lean, I sometimes want to let you lay on my lap so I can play you like an accordion: my right hand in your back pocket, left hand on your clavicle. I’ll whistle too. Whistle a tune as I stretch you, push you in and pull you closer to me.
The first time we ever hugged you whistled. My arms wrapped around your neck, yours around my waist. We swayed, shifting weight into each foot; you continued to whistle. I wanted to start beat-boxing, use my pointer fingers like drumsticks tapping on your shoulders. I didn’t. You continued to whistle. Still shifting weight into each foot, I thought about lowering my hand to the base of your hips – one hand in yours, the other in the crevice of your waistline – and dipping you down. I imagined you smiling at me as I looked down at you, your back balanced in my palm. I’d even pretend to drop you. I could see your eyes widen and lips part to let out a scream. A scream. A scream of maybe a “no” or of my name. Say it again, say it again. Sorry, my hand keeps slipping.
I didn’t drop you. I didn’t even dip you.
On Tuesdays I’ll call to ask and see if you can sleepover on Friday. I have a pull-out couch in my room; I’ll make you a fort before you arrive, knowing that before I rest my head on my pillow, you’ll be crawling towards me. Baby. Oh, baby.
The last time you slept over, I crowded the other side of my bed with pillows and stuffed animals: stuffed animals that you had left here (stuffed white tiger, Labrador retriever). They missed you. You missed me. You crawled to the foot of my bed and sat on the back of your heels; looking up, you stared at me in my cocoon. You tried to slip your hand in beneath the blanket, but I curled my legs back – my heels touching my butt. Crawling over to my side of the bed, your right hand grazed my blanket-tomb until your pointer finger reached my nose. My nose twitched. You rose to your feet, your fingers now weaving along the fabric like figure skaters. You sighed, touched my nose again.
We’re just friends, you said.
No, I thought.
You call on Wednesday to say you’re sleeping over his house. No name is mentioned. Allow me to picture him. Him: short blonde hair with a receding hairline that is outlined by zits. Him: a fry-cook at McDonald’s who speaks of making it “big” as he takes an order or flips a patty.
You text me, “I’m here,” before shutting off your phone. You claim that you leave your phone in your glove compartment, but only when you’re with him. Him: the boy who tied you to a chair in the school elevator with caution tape. Him: the boy who took photos of you lying on your bed, legs spread: a bed sheet angel. Come back. Call me. I bet you’re in the laundry room, hands are pressed against the shaking machine that isn’t on. There’s a hum orchestrated between you two: you’re a humming centipede. Let go of him before you let go of me.
Thursday afternoon my phone rings. I know it’s you. You must have waddled your way back to your car, unlocked the door and opened the glove compartment. It’s nice to know you’re okay. Your breath is heavy on the other line. I can picture you sitting on him, leaning forward with your hands pinning down his shoulders; his legs are bent; his feet hover over the mattress. Faster. Faster. I hear you say my name. I hear you say it again (on the other line). That wouldn’t happen with him, you say. Conversations don’t happen when you’re with him either. Pick me up, you say.
You’re home and bored. You must be sitting on your bean bag chair on the phone with me, just wearing a towel. I wonder if your legs are closed or open. Your feet are probably turned in and you’re leaning forward, elbow on knee. One corner of the towel folds back, then the rest starts to slide down, slowly. In my car, on my way to see you, I wonder where the towel is. I’ll want to grab it and wrap it around your waist; I’ll hold the curtain as you undress.
One Thursday you answered the front door just wearing a towel and a pair of flip flops. You were smoking a cigarette.You had asked me before if I minded smoke; I wish I had said yes.You kissed me on the cheek, put your hand on my shoulder, smiled. The towel fell to your feet. I kneeled down and lifted it up, wrapping it around you once again. I kissed you on the lips. You just chuckled.
I fell asleep on your bedroom floor Thursday night. I wake up to the sound of the shower on and you whistling. I wish I was whistling with you in the shower. I’d let you balance in my palm as I dip you back into the water. We’d run out of the bathroom and dry off in our own cocoon in your bed. We’d rest our heads on a pillowcase that smells of tobacco. I’d kiss the top of your head and smell violets in your hair line.
Sitting up, I am beneath the foot of your bed. I slowly stand up. A figure is encased in your sheets; face covered by pillow. It’s not you. The shower is still on. No one whistles like you. I sit on the other edge of the bed. Staring at the pillow-face, I can see a trail of blonde hair along the jaw line. Blonde hair. His blonde hair. He clears his throat. The shower turns off.