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June was you at the corner store, blowing out smoke like a dragon, one ripped-denim knee crossing the other. Beach-walked sandals, aviator sunglasses from my parents' time. Nope, I said, I don't do the bad boy thing, not since last November. Not since last time. But there was something different'and the way you walked, and your dog with a smile (scruffy and yellow, like you), and the summer breeze filling my ears so that I could hear nothing but yes. So we ran.
July. August. After work we'd spread ourselves out on the field and drown in the sun, laugh at all those stupid jokes that aren't even funny anymore. Why did we laugh so much back then?
Your basement, an explosion of color with your corral of paintings. They made me jealous, you saw them more then me, but I loved them all the same. I liked that one of the sad girl with long black hair, but you wouldn't say who she was.
"Did you love her?" I asked. And you said yes, but that was all. You'd never say. I'll never know. So many secrets locked up in that box. I tried to find the key, but I never could.
"I want to be painted like that," I said, because the painting was so beautiful. And you said okay.
I still have that painting of me, by the way. You can only see half my face in it. "Why is that?" I asked. You shrugged. Another secret.
September. October. I love October. And you loved it too. When the leaves waltz down the sidewalk and pirouette through the air, when the world bleeds orange and red, and the air is like your stepmom's apple crisp. We breathed it in together. We stood on the hill and closed our eyes, stretched our arms and spun, forgetting there was a world below. We listened to the wind whisper our names.
October was when we took the train downtown. It was fun that day, I don't remember why. Our heads were drunk on the smell of autumn foliage and youth. We skipped school that day (that was when school didn't matter) and we rode downtown with your easels and paper and chalk and pencils, and we drew fall. We drew the houses and trees, little kids flying a kite in the park, a mother duck and her ducklings wading through a river, a man asleep on a park bench, a maple leaf crisper than your stepmom's apple crisp.
And you said, "Fall is a little sad."
And I asked why, and you said, "I dunno. It means summer's over. It's like losing something you can't have back."
And I said, "Like love?" And you said yeah.
And I said, "But summer always comes back, doesn't it?" And you said maybe. We didn't want to think about sadness, not now, so we ran.
We raked up a pile of leaves with a stick. We made this really big pile, laughing and running around it, losing half the leaves 'cause we'd stuff them in each other's hair and shirts. We held hands, almost afraid to jump, children taking a first dive. One, two, three, go! And we sank into the orange bed together.
You are the shadowed face through a train window, the whistles and smoke that slipped under my skin. You are like my foggy dreams, and my lemon ice-tea, and you are my October. I miss your smell, cigarettes and your stepmom's apple crisp. But your story will go on, because it has to.
It's October again, and the leaves are still dancing and the geese are still signing their good-bye song, and the bullfrog doesn't sing because the pond's almost frozen over. I wore your scarf yesterday as I rode the train downtown. I crossed the street to the park where we made the autumn bed, trying to remember exactly where it was. And fall is a little bit sad this year, like losing something.
I'm waiting to see if the summer comes back.