Chasing Love: Red Lights, by Pooja Hiremath

The worst part is when I look back and try to remember the little details to fill in the holes, but I can’t. Because I never paid enough attention, caught up in a storm, chasing the next tornado, preparing myself for a twister, I wish I took the time to feel the fatness and sharpness of raindrops on my skin.

I can’t remember the colors of the carpet in Wolf’s room.

I remember the box of unplayed records under his desk, the first one Papa Roach.

I can’t remember the books he kept on the floor next to his bed.

I remember the cactus he used as an ashtray on the microwave next to his Tabasco sauce bottle stolen from Brower.

I can’t remember all our conversations, the few we had.

I play Mad Libs with myself, and though I lived it, this becomes fiction.

 

Last Friday I saw the black seat that had been broken off the round bench in front of Demarest back in November had been reattached. It was the seat he sat in when he was first introduced to me. It’s the same color, same design, as if it was never broken, but I know better.

I saw it when my parents dropped me back at the dorm after a family wedding. We hadn’t seen them in a while; they couldn’t believe how grown up I was. While everyone watched the bride and groom dance, my eyes kept flickering to the bar wishing I was old enough. At the singles table with late twenty-something year olds, I stabbed my fork through my Caesar salad; Wolf and I never did anything but stay in my room, always after 2am.

My mom dragged me out onto the dance floor. I swayed thinking about green jello shots, stealing ice cream from the freezer at SAE with Poodle and dancing to pop music in the basement. Wolf disappeared without telling anyone.

Without telling me.

 

Cub’s not really my friend. He sees the bowl of sour cream and onion goldfish next to me and digs in. When I walk into his unlocked door, he’s never there. When a mix of rap and video game pings can be heard down the hall, I know better than to walk in. I ask him how his mother’s birthday was, he asks me about what the homework assignment was. When he sits in a corner smoking his cinnamon roll flavored vape, slouching, one hand resting in the crook of his elbow of the arm holding his vape, his eyes are the same as Wolf’s when Wolf walked into the bathroom at one in the morning to brush his teeth to find me already there doing the same.

 

Cub told me to be careful: Wolf was a winding road with unexpected turns on a mountain. If I was too fast, I could go over the edge. I teetered, but I never expected Cub’s muddy slope with pebbles that cut through my dresses. Traveling by ground no longer remained an option.

In Bengal’s arms, I got to leave Iceland behind, flying to Disney World in August. But he didn’t want to watch the shooting star together, not when I asked. Instead, when I was lost in a dream I can no longer recollect, he took my hand and only held it until dawn.

 

The sun comes up everyday, but I’ve stopped feeling it.

-Pooja Hiremath

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