On the first morning you woke to a knock. It was the first time Carol Ann had stayed over; it was at your house and your parents kept you in separate rooms. She was wearing Kappa Delta boxer shorts and a Central Hardin cross country t-shirt and it was two AM. It was summer and she was shivering and you took her downstairs and laid her down on a foam-stuffed papasan cushion. It was your mom’s refugee bed when your parents had fights, worn soft by the years. You ran your fingers through her hair and you weren’t much of a poet and you quietly smiled at the phrase chocolate waterfall. You didn’t want to, but you think that’s when you fell in love. You were young enough to do that. Years later she’d tell you that it’d been a night terror, that you were the first person other than her mom that she’d gone to when she was scared. Years later she’d tell you something whispered in her ear that night and it wasn’t you. They can always be there, it said.
On the second morning she hadn’t woken up yet. You were sitting up, back propped against the headboard. It was October and you could see the canopy outside her window, leaves sometimes falling. She was lying on her stomach, head nestled into your abs. She was covered with a Department of Defense afghan, but had wiggled it down throughout the night. Honeylight murmured through the blinds and fell on bare shoulders. You reached out a hand and paused. You wished there was a museum, a more explicit seat for the Muses. There’d be exhibits where they slept in cradled tombs, just within reach, the perfection of their form all the louder because they did not try, because they did not have to try, flawless in cosmic apathy. In this place you could reach out and touch them, become part of their beauty. But no one would. To touch them would be to sully the higher with the lower. After all, such beauty slept next to you.
Last morning you woke up alone, a strand of brown hair left on your pillow, whose, it didn’t matter.