Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

intimacy

BY CAROLINE LAMPINEN

i was in my room you were in the car parked in front of my house you said you wanted to just cool off for a second, just take ten minutes in the car you said you’d be right back so i went into my room and i laid on my bed and i contemplated the fact that my mom was dying

the day before, you were driving to my house you were in the car on the road and i was standing at the door of my house looking at the two trees in the yard and my dad called before you got there to tell me that my mom had just come out of surgery and that the surgery wasn’t so easy as they thought it wasn’t just cysts in her kidney it was tumors and the tumors were in her pancreas and in her kidneys and in her stomach and in her veins and in her gall bladder and in her lymph nodes and that when it’s cancer it’s the worst when it’s in the lymph nodes and that’s where it was so it was probably cancer but we couldn’t say for sure until the tests came back

you were climbing the stairs of my porch as i said goodbye to my dad and when i hung up the phone you were standing on the other side of the glass at my door and so i opened it for you and i had to turn away i had to face the dining room and then walk through it to the kitchen and when you asked are you okay what’s wrong are you okay i looked at you and i was crying and i was already so tired of crying when i looked at you

i was laying on my bed thinking about the fact that my mom was dying and you were in the car just to cool off for a second and i wanted to give you space because i was so tired of not giving you space but your music was so fucking loud and it was black outside already and the last thing i wanted was for the neighbors to get angry so i ran outside, i ran between the two trees and flung myself straight into the outside of the passenger door of your mother’s car parked in front of my house and you still didn’t hear me over the music and i didn’t want to invade your space but i was already pressed against the black metal door and i cared about the neighbors so i opened it and climbed inside

the night before, when you left my house my aunt told me she’d give me money so i could drive home from school on weekends to see my mom and i didn’t want the money and i still couldn’t process anything so i went for a walk and then drove to your house and i remembered all the times three years ago when i cried on you and made your t-shirt wet and i didn’t want to keep doing that so i told you i wish my sister was here and i told you it’s stupid but all i can think about is how she won’t be at my wedding and i cried

when i opened the door to your mother’s car that you were in just to cool off for a second the music was still so loud and your eyes were closed while you listened to it and they didn’t open so i turned the knob to make the volume off and you asked me if i could turn it back up and i said no so you opened them and i thought i should be crying again but i wasn’t and you started to laugh which is how i knew you had disappeared from me

i knew because my mom was in a hospital three miles away and you were laying with the driver’s seat pressed way back and your arms loose at your sides and one of them was split wide open and i could see the soft tissues, soft things from inside your arm that i’m never supposed to see and they looked calm and damp rising up out of the clean line that you had drawn with the razor sitting in your cup-holder now, and the shirt you were wearing that i had given you two years before because i didn’t like how it fit me had a circle of deep purple where the blood had mixed with the blue fabric and the stain was probably as big as my face and i thought it was unfortunate for you that you had ruined this shirt because you wore it all the time and you loved it and i liked it when you wore my things and i wasn’t worried that you would die but i was worried that the person i knew inside your bleeding body was already dead

the last night i saw my mother alive i caught her sleeping upright in the hospice bed in the living room and her mouth was wide open and dry because she couldn’t drink much without getting sick and i couldn’t look at her for very long because she looked twenty years older than fifty-six but she really was fifty-six so i waited until she woke up and then i read the prayer of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe aloud from one of the tens of votive candles we kept at the foot of the bed and when i read it you decided to leave my house because it was too weird and when i went out to your mother’s car to say goodbye to you i knew that you really had died, i could feel it

and even though i knew that you had already died i still tried to revive you for days and days and i still tried to get you to speak to me even though you didn’t want to and i tried and tried until i found out my mother was dead, too, but she was dead in the sense that she could never speak to me again, even if she did want to.