Summer came in like wisdom teeth and you pulled at its edges until days caved in and grew short. This is what you do when you are young and hungry—pull night by a needle until it stitches into your eyelids. Each minute shrouded in hazy dark.
He’s not an angel but he’s something similar. Curly tufts of hair, firm laughter. A boy with too-blue eyes, his jawline making your head hurt. You get drunk so you can both dance without anybody looking. You get drunk and have a million retinas in your head and for once, every word you speak matters, it does.
Sometimes the city can’t save the drowned boy. Sometimes it buries its sins under the cold metal of bleachers and the boys die, all of them, sometimes in fragments, sometimes all at once. This is what it’s like to accept the knife of silence. The scissoring of your ribcage, how God yanks out your spine, ties a perfect knot with His tongue.
After the funeral, you sat outside the church and struck matches. One matchbook, then another, taken from businesses, hotel bars. Summer felt like being asleep, sweat pooling at the small of your back, underneath your good suit.
Your older brother took you to a party that night. His college friends laughed stupidly in their school colors. He patted your shoulder, handing you a beer. I’m sorry about your friend, he told you. A small offering, wriggling and shiny as a fish. Summer rubbing blisters into your ankles. The boy, not exactly an angel, flitting across your mind.