by Jacob Rivard
Do you remember the time we shared a cigarette at the gas station? I don’t even like smoking, but I loved the way it tasted when it passed from your hand to mine. It was like inhaling your way of the world: baking, bars, and boundless curiosity. You weren’t much of a talker, you told me. I begged to differ. The smoke, passing from your lips, brought with it secrets and stories you shared with no one, of childhood toys you missed and times you felt sorry for kicking a can down a road. Every word swelled with conviction, filling the air with a strange sense of purpose. I never wanted that cigarette to go out.
~ The only thing I can vividly recall from the drive to the Bridge were your shoes.
You were in flip flops. You planned to step out of your house for just a moment. Neither of us expected it. One kiss and $20 in our pockets saw us embarking on a six-hour journey to see the sunrise. We threw caution to the wind that night, using your dimly lit phone as our guide to a new dawn. As buildings gave way to forests, and forests bowed to the beaches, I realized it could never be. We were the only ones to set foot on the sand that morning. Pioneers of passion, I called us. Our first order saw us conquer a bench, throwing rocks absentmindedly into the water. Neither of us wanted to face the reality. Once the sun rose, we had to return to our old worlds. And I would carry our kiss to the grave.
~ When we sat on the roof of my home, I knew something had changed.
This time, our hands seemed to blur as we shared our cigarette. We interlocked fingers, forming complex patterns to complicate a simple act, as if doing so would ensure a greater sense of unity between us. When we slept that night, we melted into one another. I never wanted to let you go. I wasn’t sure if it was hubris or some heroic sense of purpose, but I thought I could protect you. Maybe I was different. Maybe I could break the cycle. Something within my soul urged me to keep you safe. I never realized that I was the birdcage.
~ When it ended, I lost myself.
I blamed you. You, I told myself, were the reason I couldn’t stop smoking. You made me this way. Now, I had a reason to act out. For the first few months, you were my catch-all. In a sense, I felt vindicated knowing I had a source of blame. As I sunk deeper and deeper, I found a familiar light within the mire. Was this where you found it, too?
~ It always amazed me that, even through the haze of the highs and the sobering clarity of the lows, you were always able to see me for who I was — who I am. I wish I could write this with more clarity. You would always giggle when I couldn’t find the proper words. I guess this is your way of getting the last laugh, isn’t it? Maybe some endings are better left wordless. In a way, it almost makes it all the more powerful. Whether it’s good or bad, all you can do is feel.
About Jacob Rivard
Jake Rivard an award-winning writer based in Detroit, Michigan with published works in satire, hockey journalism, and activist journals. You can find my work anywhere from the world’s largest hip hop satire site to grocery stores throughout the Midwest.