The couple next door is starting in on each other again. I can hear them through the wall. Just one of the perks of apartment living—you get to hear your neighbors making love and war.
“Fuck you. It’s obvious you don’t want to be with me. Obvious to everyone.”
She’s drunk. I can hear the warble in her voice from here.
“Obvious to who? Your friends, who really just want you to be as miserable as they are?”
He’s loud. He’s always loud, whether laughing or yelling.
I’ve watched them from my balcony when they leave, enfolded in each others’ arms. They are a hot summer day even when scarves wrap them against the cold—the sight of them together makes my eyes hurt if I look at them too long.
Stretching away from my book, I’m grateful for the distraction. This must’ve been the millionth time I’ve read through that same passage. I lean my head back against the couch and listen.
“To everyone. If you loved me, you’d...” I miss what she says next, but I imagine her trailing off and looking at him with her big, doe eyes.
“No. Not this time.” There is a screech of chair against floor. Did he get up, or she?
I think about my own lover’s quarrels as their shouting escalates. How powerful my tirades were, and how in those moments I felt truly alive because I truly just wanted to be free. Or to be sucked into the earth and feel the deep cool of nothing.
And yet, all this brings to mind neon fireflies.
Sitting on steps, gazing in awe at a red setting sun.
Licking foam from a well-poured stout off my lip, mouth curling into a smile.
That one busking guitar player in the dark tunnel, rocking from one foot to the other as he sang that one song.
The Raven—the place, not the poem.
Painting a teal peacock on the boardwalk and people stopping to watch.
Running till the inside of my thighs were rubbed raw.
The screaming on the other side of the wall is silenced with the slam of a door. I hear heavy boots stomping past my apartment. For a moment, I wonder if this time he’ll keep walking.
But no. I know he’ll be back.
He and his doe are explosions of fire, yet they are also soft fireflies.
They are sharp teeth, but they are also the curling smile.
They are the poem, the peacock, the raw rubbing.
It is impossible to leave such things. I know because I am a wraith haunting the halls of my old life. And though my body has passed into the grave, even now I cannot leave. I am too much in love with the world to free myself from all its horrors and graces, its holiness and lost cases.
I have a lover’s quarrel with the world—I want to go, to be free, yet I cannot help but stay.