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July 16, 2022


K Chiucarello

All the boys I meet want to play me their guitar. It’s always like listen listen listen and they pick the body up, bring it over their thigh as if the placement itself is a studious act of God.

When I was fifteen and not sixteen, one of the boys brought me down to the waterfall. A wicked storm had racked our fields for forty days straight and it was thundering and lightning, pouring buckets of soupy rain that smelt warm as rotten eggs done easy. Biblical times, These are Biblical times; It's the windows of heaven openin right, Flood’s gon break. All the townspeople were noting.

The grasses sponged everything up into their bladed green tongues so that pockets of twigs and rainfall, wheelbarrows swollen full of leaves, lay nauseous everywhere we went. Even the livestock bleated nonstop, crowing warning signs at odd hours of the night. You’d think a landscape this wide would find ways to hold that wet, to spread it out evenly. But I assure you when everything broke, the weight of that rain was justified.

It stopped raining the day the boy and I went down to the waterfall. We looped around the No Trespassing sign and when we were quite a ways down the forested hill, we came across a tree that had fallen from the storms; it lay in the middle of the path.

The boy held my hand as I hauled my hips over the tree’s barked body, my legs splitting around its trunk, only catching myself as I dug one of my clogs into the downward bed of mud, my pelvic bone shredded to smithereens.

The boy grabbed at my hand –– he never let me go –– and he sturdied a six pack of tallboys in his other hand.

Before we went to the waterfall I bought us sandwiches from a place called Deli and Brews. We watched the waterfall as we ate our sandwiches: me, a buffalo turkey, him, a chicken parmesan. We shouted over the rushing water that had turned itself brown from all the sediment kicking up from this week’s storm.

Sometimes I feel so unheard, he yelled as marinara sauce dripped down his perfect lower lip. There’s no space left for me, he exclaimed. He seemed exasperated. All I could do was focus on how badly I had to pee, how the tallboy had worked its way into the core of me and how I couldn’t pretend to hold myself attentive when my bladder was this full of liquid. I kneaded the meat of my thigh so I could feel something other than pressure resting in my gut.

Once, I was a telephone. My mother taught me to be like this. Her mother taught her to be like that. She didn’t call me a telephone then but when I was old enough, when I had enough boys in me, when I turned sixteen not fifteen, I knew my purpose was to connect the boys to themselves, to listen to their guitars and listen to their poetry, to soak in that constant juice. One could theoretically define their purpose, my mother would say, around all the things one does not want to do. Nurture over nature, or something like that. Pretend you’re a refrigerator, my mother said, store everything there, keep it at a cool temperature. An object, I asked? Mmm, my mother replied, But that’s an awful way of going about it –– those thoughts stay, she turned to me to smile, tapped the front of her wide forehead, in here. My mother had memorized where every object in our kitchen belonged and she spent the rest of her hour moseying through cupboards and appliances, finding empty spaces for the cherries, pulling out a colander for engorged lentils to drip off in, she rearranged the tubs of yogurt and cans of soda. 

The boy snapped at me. You’re not paying attention, he said. I have to pee, I replied.

I got to my feet and went to a place where the boy could not see me and I squatted down to let myself loose only to notice it was raining again. Small specks of wet dusted my skin, jellies of dew collecting around my freckles. I looked up to see the sky was starting to bloom with grey clouds, bulbs of cotton moving at a speed I didn’t like to witness. I repeated to myself, Refrigerator, refrigerator, refrigerator. After I dried off, I shimmied my denim shorts up my thighs and buttoned them around my waist, joining again the boy on our rock overlooking the downfall. It was a beautiful nook, a flat sitting perch so that you could see the whole trajectory of the river in one fail swoop. We sat parallel to where the tiers of waterfall made their sweeping crush of impact.

Day forty-one.