As the bright stars begin to dim, the last trace of night departing from the sky, you nudge your head into a soft pillow—which is really a folded Patagonia sweatshirt—and pull the blanket covers over your shaking body, as though you’re rolling light green paint over a wall, then you start to wonder why you’re sleeping alone, helpless and vulnerable, on a blue futon sitting under the living room window, that remains open for smoke breaks.
The cigarette patch on your left shoulder itches your skin, when you reach up for the glass of water on the coffee table. You sip, gulp, take a breath, and fall back onto the futon.
Kick your feet up, slip off your dress shoes, one by one. You check your cellphone, bring up Snapchat, bring up the Gram, and bring up Twitter, like you’re at a Chinese buffet carrying a plate, and studying the food trays, for nourishment, and finding disappointment in the spread. You like the photo of your friends climbing a mountain in the backwoods of Virginia. Maybe, you should go climbing; you know, get fresh air, explore nature.
Ashes from the coals on the hookah spill to the carpet. Your stomach grumbles. You want to nibble on thin mints. This is Arlington, VA, your good friend Jonathan’s house, and it’s the middle of the night/early morning. You used to live a couple houses down from this address, a year ago, maybe two. Back then, you would fall asleep in front of a TV, on a crummy sofa, a piece of licorice sticking from your fist. Your old roommates were white, all went to VA Tech, played lax.
You glance over at your maroon VA Tech hat dangling from a wooden chair; your mom’s side of the family all attended that university—a legacy. The futon feels comfortable and safe. You don’t want to leave it.
But you have to take a piss. This makes you think of your body, your health. All the drugs you’ve consumed. All the drinks you’ve guzzled. All the cigarettes you’ve smoked. Is your immune system like Vietnam—your parent’s country—battered and eroded? You cough into your shoulder, dry heaving, like an elderly man. (Go to the doctor next week, do a physical, why not?)
Outside, the bugs click and clack. Birds sing lullabies for their young ones. And stray cats purr, their voices strained and haunting, thirsty for their mother’s milk.
You miss Richmond, VA. You miss Chattanooga, TN. You miss East Village, NYC. You miss Somerset, New Jersey. You miss sleeping in your own bed, in your parent’s house in Burke, VA. Most of all, you miss sleeping next to her, her body clutched to your body, like an adhesive bandage covering a fresh wound.