The Things You’ve Learned1
April 4, 2016 by The Citron Review
by Ayla-Monic McKay
That day, your best friend laughed.
Your heart skipped and stumbled; the cold
ocean at your feet reminded you: keep it together
When she laughed, she would grab your hand, fingers laced together.
She would lean right into you, gaze up at you from beneath bangs.
Hearts are cruel, you learned: cursed
with mirages of what you could have if only —
If only she wasn’t your best friend, softly beautiful.
The water was icy cold, but she still convinced you to do it, to leap in
with her, shrieking, grabbing each other. You would do anything she asked.
She helped you do up the buttons of your swimming costume.
You barely suppressed the shiver that threatened to dance down
your spine. She brushed your hair aside, her fingertips rested, briefly
(such a gentle touch, deft in its precision, pierced your flesh just so.
Such a gentle breath, betraying your cruel heart, slipped from your
mouth just so.)
at the nape of your neck, and then, last button done,
she wrapped her arms around you, leaned against your back.
Her hair brushed against your neck. She said you were her dearest friend.
and for just a moment you were crackling with electricity.
You held your breath, suspended the moment, held it still:
the briefest of lifetimes. And then she laughed, and you kissed
her forehead, before daring her to race you to the edge of that cold sea.
Ayla-Monic McKay is a writer and bisexual activist from Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she lives with a handful of cats and co-runs All Grown-Up Books out of her apartment with her platonic soulmate. Her articles and short fiction have appeared in The Establishment, MISTRESS, and xoJane. She can be found on Twitter at @aylamonic.
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