Last night as I was walking home from a friend’s I saw a monstrous black spider spilling into the crosswalk up ahead. Since I was walking uphill and it was the early hours of the morning it was hard to see but I could make out its massive spindle legs and blurry, downy body. I thought about how I’ve needed glasses for years but doctors never seem to give them to me, but I’m thankful for the pepper spray in the pocket of my dad’s denim jacket so I can put the spider in its place. I dare it to attack me, but as I get closer its atoms dissipate and only some fuzzy black pixels are left behind in my eyeline. I do almost collide with the smoke cloud of a tall man turning the corner too fast, and he looks at me as if to say What are you doing out here at this hour, a girl all alone. I think of my girlfriend’s tits and the way the skin of them sort of bunches up when she’s lying down and pours out of her sports bra. Those tiny wrinkles between her breasts make me melt and cry, because she may not want them anymore even though I worship them like the god I never had. I think of her going about her day, her tits tucked into their compressive garment but her t-shirt tight enough so I know they’re there. I think of how when I spoon her I press her nipples inward in a strange ritual of checking and holding; I worry about the soft lumps I feel in them even though I know it’s not the kind to be worried about but I hold them like tiny caps for my fingertips, warm and raised like fleshy Braille. I’m sitting alone while my best friend has dinner with my ex-best friend and I feel the most peculiar sense of circular loneliness while I sit on ex-friend’s futon and wear my girlfriend’s (who may not be my girlfriend for much longer) socks. The only relief I have is the small hoarding of glassware I’ve found on the street and then haphazardly draped Christmas lights around my apartment that turn everything a soft pink but make it difficult to sleep. One of my far too many scented candles is filling my scratchy throat with the smell of a forest somewhere far away, it reminds me of Yosemite where my parents took us when I was in second grade. It feels really odd that I could associate the memory with this scent I picked up at Trader Joe’s but is also kind of nice in a way. We nearly died during that trip; our blue van’s brakes gave out somewhere up a snowy mountainside and my dad had to forcefully maneuver the steering wheel while the car plummeted downward so we didn’t hit a tree.
As a kid I loved to write so people would give me journals all the time, one was pink and blue and had anthropomorphic caterpillars and butterflies on it in that strangely tacky almost-plaid pattern of the early 2000s, which I filled up with lists of my male crushes in my fourth grade class. It was actually quite full of sexual energy. The one I buried is a leather-bound Roots journal, I forget where I got it but it felt so serious with pages that smelled like the dead trees they were made out of. I don’t remember in full what I wrote in it, but I do know it had something to do with wanting to jump out the window. What I didn’t really think through was that my window is only on the second floor so while I may break my leg I most likely wouldn’t die. Since then I have thought a lot about jumping, from there or other windows, and have assessed what I think of as pretty accurately how injured I would get in the fall. Sometimes it feels like my mom senses this, because when I was home at thanksgiving she told me the story of the man who is one of only three people to ever survive jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. His name is Kevin and he gave something akin to a TED talk and said that as he took the bus or tram or whatever up the bridge he bargained with himself that if someone gave him a sign or a kind word he wouldn’t kill himself. When he got to the edge of the bridge a beautiful woman approached him and he thought That’s it I’ve been saved, she’s the angel coming to tell me not to jump. Instead she asked if he’d take her picture and that’s when he jumped, knowing there was no hope left for himself or humanity. My mom said as soon as he felt his hands leave the bridge and his grip loosen he knew that death wasn’t what he wanted, and amazingly he survived the initial fall but fucked up the vertebrae in his back so as he plunged underwater he thought Well that’s it I survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge and now I’m going to drown because of my broken back. But he didn’t. And I should probably look up his story more or listen to him speak, but I keep thinking about that. He tried so hard to die and he just didn’t when it came right down to it. I think of some tragedy where a beautiful recent college graduate was killed in a horrible car accident right when she had her whole life ahead of her. She didn’t want to die but she did, swiftly too. Kevin wanted to die but he didn’t and I don’t believe in a perverse God-given order of the universe but I am utterly stumped thinking about that. Maybe my mom hearing his story and telling me in our kitchen in Ohio somehow saved me that day. The cat I adopted for three sweet days around Halloween came back today, which felt sad and hilarious and comforting all at once. I named her Morticia since I was Morticia Addams for the Black Cat costume party, and she is black and white and fluffy with light green eyes the color of a green apple lollipop, they’re translucent in the same way. I was drawn to the way that if I looked down at her eye while holding her I could see through her cornea and the pupil reflected back in the milky gauze of the eyeball, a weird little organ prism in which I imagine entire universes exist. I put Morticia in a grocery bag but she climbed back out and ran across the street where I took a picture of her on my new dinky film camera. Her name is actually Elijah and she is a boy, or her owner is named Elijah and he is presumably a boy and his DC-area code number is printed next to his name on the collar. After I finish chasing Morticia I bike to the congressional cemetery to watch the last light fade through my tiny viewfinder and run into a lot of old people, toddlers and dogs traipsing through the graves. My favorite part is the row of crypts protruding from the ground like hobbit houses, most of them with Scottish or Irish surnames carved gloomily into their upper portico, or whatever that’s called. One of them I climb inside and it is deliciously horrifying, most are locked with a massive chain and heavy duty lock from the hardware store. In a few the originally stacked coffins are missing so the façade looks like a checkerboard pattern: one coffin with an inscripted slab at its foot forming the wall I look upon, the next coffin missing, gaping like a massive missing tooth hole. The whole structure suddenly looks like a conglomeration of pizza ovens, and I imagine pizzas being slid all the way back into the coffin shelves to bake in a brick oven. The places between the crypts themselves feel the same way as Morticia’s eye, empty but with some lurking energy that could be concealing something devastatingly complex. I shine the flashlight on my phone into cracks and see the foot of a coffin and barred up stained glass windows and shudder as a dog runs up to me for a quick pet. I need to remember not to ruin my film so that the picture of Morticia turns out and I can remember all this.
Walking off the night train and staring at the trumpet flowers I wonder if the trumpet flowers even have a name at all. Of course they must, but that’s what I’ve named them, I think a few months ago when I was walking with friends or a lover. I said to them that the flowers only open at night and turn their hollow bowl mouths up to the moonlight when they remarked on how pretty such plants were. I have no idea if this is true. This is the only time I lie, when I become convinced of my own authority on things that are half-truths, maybe I read them in a book somewhere or maybe they are just printed in grayscale on the backs of my eyelids. I pass their cavernous white bodies gently yearning toward the rainy night sky and I gulp down the taste of girl in my mouth. It has been over twenty four hours but I still feel somehow the way her mouth smells and folds into mine, like her scent is etched into my tongue in a way that defies physical practicalities and allows for the suspension of the senses as though I’m in a big, dark deprivation tank floating through the salt. I want her so badly. The only remedy to my desire is surrounding myself with other beautiful women, more beautiful women, to distract from the hole forming inside of my heart as it tries to provide a shelf for her within it. The silver streak in Roxy’s hair is of such a profound beauty that it reminds me of illustrated stories like Rapunzel with metallic colors glimmering between the pages of the most finely printed books. I wonder if any girls write about me without me knowing. On one hand I believe they must, people fall in love with me with some regularity. But likely nothing good—one wrote notebooks, another wrote songs, they aren’t girls, though. I told Dana I have Robert Frost on vinyl and she said Of Course You Do. I want to listen to it with her but my record player is broken and I’ve become avoidant of the unique sadness of trying to fix it alone. Be the girlfriend you wish to see in the world, I suppose. I want Dana to fall in love with me so badly. I want to seduce her with my eyes and my body and my heart and for her to offer hers in return. I want her so badly I’m willing to give monogamy a go. Do I want her selfishly or selflessly I wonder—she feels different. She is something to work toward. I made her a four hour and five minute playlist of songs for her to learn me and I listen to it now to learn myself, or at least to remind me of me. I want to dance with her to prom music beneath a disco ball with slow lights swirling colors around our faces. Do I? Roxy told me that her sister has a girlfriend who is her perfect match and that when her sister returned from three weeks away the girlfriend met her in the airport completely surrounded by roses and played the song that Roxy’s sister had written for her. I wonder again if I will ever have that or if all of my feelings have become exhausted by the fleeting passions I feel and have felt. I dreamt that our friends divorced and told us in their separation that we may go through the house and choose a singular object as a token of the time we all spent together. Of course I chose the room containing multitudes. I climbed somehow up to face the tall bookshelves, perhaps I floated even, and I selected a magician’s box, a nearly electric teal but worn with antiquity, gilded and gorgeous with its gold lock contraptions. There were many objects arranged inside, spellbooks and props that looked eerily like the sex toys I bought to play with my ex girlfriend’s breasts. I have not wanted a chest like that until Dana. The dream ended with my uncle maniacally ransacking the house, barreling into the room where I was suddenly naked and hiding beneath a gauzy tablecloth that did not come close to reaching the floor. My cousin ran over and proclaimed no one was there, but the uncle took it upon himself to double check. I awoke in someone’s bed (where I did not have sex) to the lucid sight of the uncle’s bug eyes bulging with pleasure from behind his glasses and teeth large and yellowed like a humongous goat leering over the naked curve of my hips and I knew that death was upon me.
Pres wrote in his facebook post the day Lou Reed drew his last breath
Those early days of consummate teenage passion we fucked desperately to Lou crooning from
Pres’s record player
So many I love yous exchanged to his rasping
So many tears in central park to Perfect Day
And now Lou, Lou Reed the hamster, third of my rodents, last connection of mine to an apartment and a house I invited love into, last reminder of a shared space with people with whom I never want to speak again, I carry you in this carton with a cardboard roof, nestled on a bed of newspaper salvaged from the recycling, and I release you over the brick wall to the cemetery and down into a dripping rosebush where you will land upon the ground and your cloudy grey coat will look like that of a snow leopard without spots, and you will scurry with your deadened black back limbs and your tumorous adage and make peace with this, the last of your homes, your final-most cage that is no cage at all, the freest you have ever been shall be in death, whether death strikes in the form of a hawk, a drowned mud puddle, a freezing temperature or a total collapse of the collective weakness of your ailments. I say Godspeed and touch my fingers to my mouth and watch your ghostly apparition crawl raggedly, frantically away, and I wonder if your angel of death is me, and if you recognize the face of your fate, the mistress of your abandonment into this impossibly beautiful, damp place. Rita’s here with the car and I look for you through the brambles one last time and seeing nothing I lean forward and whisper
And turn to walk away.
Lara texts me that she and June are getting married tomorrow, late on a Wednesday night and would I come be with them at the courthouse. I am delighted but I have to work, I’ll meet up with you afterward. Lara says the ceremony will be at 1:30 in the afternoon and when I finish a little after 4 it is torrentially raining and I’m stuck and can’t make it to the post nuptial ramen feast downtown. Rita picks me up and we together leap over the three inch deep puddle moat to her car and soon after I’m asleep on the futon and waking up to Lara texting again asking where I am. I tell Rita she’s coming and put on the white T-shirt that has “Sky High” emblazoned on the tit that we just got that very night free with our weed order. Vape stocked, no bra, mimosa flavor, we’re ready to go. We mosey downhill toward Norah’s house, who I can never keep track of because she crashes somewhere in DC a few months and then goes back home when her Visa’s up and then comes back again and works all over. But I ran into her the other day and she gave me a free iced tea from the cute but kind of fancy neighborhood coffee shop where I once saw my sexy yoga teacher with her husband and it was a bummer. But now Norah is back in town working at the coffee shop living in the big yellow turreted house three minutes around the corner from me. Fate, it seems. And I keep running into her, almost every day. And she lives with my friend Vincent whom I met when I was selling zines and the person I’m meant to go on a date with next week texts me and says I’m going to be staying overnight with a friend on 8th Street in Eckington maybe we could meet the next morning and I say whoa who and they say Vincent! Strange little clicks. Anyway I get to Norah’s where Lara and June greet me with hugs between cigarettes and a sweet old dog comes to greet us and chew on the grass. I’m thrilled, seeing these friends I haven’t seen much since school ended two years ago even though they’re all older than me because they were masters students and I was an undergrad but several of them were in my one and only art show. I see Ollie with her braids and her husband and we hug and she’s characteristically kind and I meet the housemates and Rita knows one of them from working at Trader Joe’s and there’s all these little cross-overs on this big creaky porch and we nestle into a couch across from everyone and vape our little hearts out. Norah picks the music and I reintroduce myself to Jax who I haven’t seen since three exes ago and Lara is pleasantly drunk and tells me after the ceremony they went home to consummate their marriage but they were too tired so they just complimented each other’s butt and boobs and fell asleep and Rita and I were astounded with such a presentation of true love. We’re high and we rent an electric scooter from up the block and Rita and I are whirring around on it for the second night in a row and then we present it to the happy couple as a token gift just as it starts raining. We realize we’re all probably a bit fucked up for steering a scooter and return to the porch, June’s been gone a long time getting coffee and stopping at home and Lara is wondering good naturedly if her new wife has left her and Norah is dancing and it’s undeniably sexy and a shame that she loves men. Jax takes tea orders and sets up all the herbal tea bags in cups on the counter and doesn’t remember until it’s an hour later and the water is cold. We dance and eat chips and proclaim how happy we are to see one another. A couple years ago Lara told me she was disappointed in the men she was sleeping with and I said just date women and shortly after she started dating her best friend June and now they are spontaneously wives and I bought a cheesy card from a fancy shop that says “Mrs and Mrs” because really how many times in your life can you do that. I still see the porch lights and the rain and the haze and it was the best night in a long time.
L Scully is a queer, nonbinary American emerging writer and artist currently based in Madrid. Their work focuses mainly on sexuality, gender, and mental illness, as well as love on occasion.