12:00 word play ground down to the slide

by Charlotte E. Wilde

The room was hot with the breath of a thousand mouths sighing blue then red. Mistakes, drinks in both hands, impatiently hovered on the edges, waiting to push into the crowd. We were delirious, pupils swollen like lips from a sideways kiss, the lot of us all too happy to say goodbye and hello again, as though pages really turned on Cinderella and her glass slippered smile. Hello again, as though pumpkins and people both could become something better at drop of a ball or hat.

There’s a certain darkness that lends itself to forgetting careful. I slipped but didn’t fall until I couldn’t tell where words swam murky and I’d lost my sentiment and way. Promises came back around like a skeptically late arrival and the speed of the metro pinned us back into a laughter that doubled down to lay its hedged bets. It bubbled out of me, over me, but your fingers on my arm said ‘quiet, we’re almost there.’ I was shocked by the heat of it all; five fingers, then ten, blistering straight through to the bone.

I felt us swaying, lost together in that faceless crowd, breathing to the rhythm of so many bodies, emotions hitting hard as a throbbing techno base. “The best part is the ending,” you said, and I wondered if you meant the song, or the night, or the year, or left your sentences like ellipsis trails as a matter of habit. But I felt it building too, straining hard where spit and scratch don’t matter for forget-me-nots in a garden of ‘remember-when-we’s, memories pushing high like weeds on a bed made for tumbling.

The best part is always the ending, the out of control. When I’m all angles, jagged elbows and hip bones, with arrows traced to mark the spot. When you’re all hard-lined arms holding me back from an imaginary edge at the foot of a cliff or a moment where we stay pretending to be strangers to this 6AM.

The best part is the ending where I think I felt the crack of our reality on my cheek and couldn’t tell where your hand stopped and my mouth began, until I tasted the blood of secret-clenched-teeth.

The best part is the ending when I breathe in and it’s your breath I taste, where your half-lidded look must mirror mine for eyes closing to eventuals and concentrating on the here, trace what’s left of our now, between a ribcage and an arm, both made ticking like the time we haven’t got.

You’re so good at endings; it’s a story not a sigh. Still, I can’t help but hope that this year’s beginning will be more than just a footnote to the last.