I had a dream the other night, about a girl I used to know. Not a girl I know in real life, but perhaps a composite of many. But in the reality of my dream, we had long history.
We were sitting someplace – a bar, or coffee house.
For some reason we were smoking; I think because in the noir of my subconscious, it was what the scene needed.
I lit a cigarette and passed it to her; took one out for myself, looked at it, and then put it back. later, I thought.
We talked about memories. I traced table-top scars with my finger, imagining what violence or carelessness had made each one.
This should have been different, I said. But I couldn’t find the words to tell her what I meant. She sipped from a glass of something dark, and brushed her sandy brown hair back from her forehead.
She looked at me sadly, shaking her head.
I should go, she said.
No, not yet.
She stood, and I stood with her; our heads almost knocking together in our awkwardness. I reached to catch her, to prevent a fall that wasn’t actually happening. I left my hand on her hip for a beat, and then two, and then slowly she moved closer to me.
Her mouth tasted like sweet spice and cigarettes. She closed her eyes as we kissed.
I want you, I whispered into her cheek. She said nothing, but I could feel her answer with the confused certainty of dream – It’s too late.
Her skin was warm against my palm as I lifted her shirt; I slipped fingers into the waist of her jeans, feeling somehow if I could touch her, I could keep her, make hermore than memory. I could smell her skin.
Please, I said. She said nothing; she was fading into haze, a ghost of memory.
Wait, I said, to empty, smokey space. I’m not finished.
I woke to pale, cold sunshine through my fly-specked window, the bed empty beside me. I flexed my hand and resisted the urge to put it to my nose. I know no scent would cling.
Who are you, I asked the phantom of my dream.