Stephen calls me. The only man I’ve ever loved. Actually. The only person to ever notice that first thing in the morning I rub my eye with my pinkie, touch it to my chin, and then run the finger across the hem of my shirt.

From states away, I’d again tried to make us over. There have been many tries. In each, I’m na├»ve, sloppily sealing the us off from the me, and then shocked when air seeps back through. I’m very young at this.

When Stephen calls me he says, I don’t know who you are. He is not so young at this and I wonder what he knows.

He’s the first person to describe me as a goddess. In the next sentence, a bitch. Either or. Back and forth. And I get confused. They say a black and white world is out of vogue. But he’s in my ear. Either or. Either or.

Stephen’s the only person who has ever talked at me for an hour, two, and when he’s ready for me to reply I find my words hanging like overgrown tonsils. I open my mouth, and can only just breathe.

Stephen says, I tell people that all the time now. When I tell them stories about us and they ask me why you would do these things. I tell them I don’t know you. I’ve never known you. I don’t know who you are.

I think, through all of this, there’s a buzzing in my ears. Until I see it on the wall. I hit the plaster hard. The hurt is good—or I might wonder if I still exist.

Stephen waits for me to respond.

I pull my hand back.

In my palm there’s blood, running across those curvy lines people say have to do with life, longevity. A mosquito falls, bent and flat, to the floor. The blood runs on. And it must be mine because I’m all that’s here.  

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