my stay here goes forward, which is not to say i am anywhere near finishing.
we laughed and laughed, us four, like the little girls of e.e.cummings in his most famous poem, driving there together, being almost late, rushing into the red velour seats clutching teddy bears and blankies, our daredevil slippers padding gently against the carpeted floors of the new movie theatre. i sat between two girls i would grow to love, and giggled at the exploits of a doe-eyed boy and his wildhaired companion. the end was bittersweet, and i almost cried a little, but didn't trust any of them enough yet.
after that we all went to play in the parking lot of walmart. there was a swingset on display and i wanted to swing on it but i had grown so much since i last tried one i hadn't realized how big i had gotten in comparison to child swingsets. we used the red plastic slide instead, whooping playfully.
it was raining, and the drops were tiny, tiny like seed pearls. they fell very slowly, and i started the game of trying to catch them in our mouths. wearing cotton pajamas and dark red lipstick borrowed from one of our party, we fell momentarily in love with each of night's teardrops our mouths encountered. staring up at the dizzying night sky, vast and clouded over, i darted from one raindrop to another, like a baby bird trying to catch its breakfast.
me and one of the girls, a beautiful freshwater nymph girl with hair like satin and a delicate face, retreated to the shade of a tree who's roots were pushing up the cement around it, and she told me a story that had always made her want to cry. the orange light of a streetlamp pressed its way through the leaves of our tree, shining down like a surreal dawn on her rosy cheeks while she spoke. i plucked two leaves of ivy while listening to her voice and tucked them behind my ears.
when we had finished talking, we went to find the other half of our quartet, and saw them near the front entrance of the darkened walmart. approaching the building to greet our friends, we paused once more to see the misty rain drifting down upon us. our hair was wet, and her eyes were shining like the ocean. the ivy leaves felt comfortable nestled near my temples, and as we walked closer to the walmart i looked up, and saw, in one moment, one of the most lovely and whole girls i had ever seen.
she was standing inside the walmart, or so it seemed. her mouth had been stained dark with the lipstick of truth, and her face was pale but calm. she wore white flannel, with delicate purple flowers printed on it, and cream ribbons at the cuffs and collar. her hands were dainty, they looked like porcelain, and she seemed oddly transparent. she looked very pure, and very wise, and also quite profoundly sad. for a split second i thought that this girl was standing inside the walmart, looking out at the four of us, and then, when i caught sight of the ivy leaves tucked behind her ears, i realized i was looking at my own reflection.