“The Neverending Story”
(from Pressed Between the Pages #2)

Rachael popped her head in to ask if I had any kid's movies she could borrow. I don't. It’s hot because we only have one air-conditioner and it’s on the other side of the house. I’m sitting on the bed reading distro considerations; she just wants to fall asleep to something light-hearted.

An hour later, I walk past the door to the basement and notice the light on. We both keep boxes of old movies down there, so I crept down the stairs to offer help in her VHS search. Instead, I found her shooting a bb gun into the brick basement wall.

We ended up talking in the creepy basement - old exposed bricks, pipes and cobwebs - about the new house we put a bid on, and finding roommates, and about relationshits.

We talk about being lonely, together, as she fired another round into the wall.

She told me about her ex that she was thinking about getting back with, he wasn't a bad guy, but he wasn't really a good guy either. He was steady. I told her about my new crush and why it's all in my head and there's no way that she could heart me too and how I get so nervous when she signs on to the internets and how carefully I choose my words when typing/backspacing/rewriting to her and how silly it all is. Silly everywhere but in my heart, which skips a beat when Rachael puts another round into the wall.

Our conversations always end awkwardly. Like the first pause lasting more than ten seconds is the sign to end it. So we do. She goes to bed and I sit and type for a while to Jenni and Sarah before laying down myself.

"if you have somewhere to burn them -
the smell will bring you home"

(poem from Pressed Between the Pages #1)

You wrote it over and over
how you longed for autumn's rouse
so I boxed up every deceased leaf I could find
and mailed them to you

lost for hours in songs that I can't
but really want to unfurl
pretending I too can relate to every line
about a boy and a girl

cold piano keys and
crispy confetti leaves
red and orange and bubble wrapped--
burn them soon, babe.

"She Handed Me Her Diary"
(previously unpublished in PBtP, published in Valiant Death's ZineScrapbook #1)

She handed me her diary.

It was cold from sitting in her bag on the passenger side floor. The binding used to be black, but the years had added stickers and gel pens, and, is that…? Yeah, housepaint. It was so hard to see in the muted streetlamp shining through the windshield.

I flipped through quickly – stapled bookmarks and envelope halves – she files quotes too; I’ve been guilty of that since forever.

"I want you to write the ending."

I got to the last page and glanced over to confirm. She nodded and moved towards me in her seat, the cushion groaned in the wintertime. I dug a pen out of my pocket, clicking it open as she grabbed my wrist.

"Not in front of me!"

The lit-up orange and teal controls from the dashboard reflected in her dark nail polish, where her nails weren't chewed down. She pulled away. Reaching for under the dashboard, she gently set her diary in my glove compartment.

"When you get in from Chicago you can give it back." her voice cracked on the last word, but she refused to clear her throat and acknowledge it. "And I want a proper ending, not one of those, 'and I realized, as I sat up in bed, it was all just a horrible nightmare' endings."

She let out a nervous giggle.

And so did I, I think. I am so bad at good-bye’s.

I looked past her for a moment, through her front porch window, to the pink, yellow and green twinkling stars on her living room Christmas tree. They were the only colors puncturing the gray winternight blanket that surrounded us outside.

She leaned over and I met her kiss. Even before our lips were done, she had her bag in one hand and the door handle in the other. With one motion the car door opened, closed, and then muffled the sounds of her shoes crunching the snow up the walk.

The twinkling stars went out some time before I had pulled away.