Silent Exchange

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We never talked
on the way home. Tyler drove
his mom’s stick shift,
the rearview mirror slicing open
how serious he made his eyes
and I watched the road with him.

He had just gotten his license,
and the car was a part of him
that had grown too quickly, still
too new to fit his body
but he was too silent to seem nervous.
Once he shifted hard enough
to almost touch my knee and I thought
it was confidence
until I saw him wincing.

Tyler had wanted the car to be a place
that was his, but
I’d interrupted, breathing in
the space he’d started to make for himself.
Neither of us
could find a way to be alone
while I lived above Tyler’s bedroom,
sleeping there at night
because I couldn’t go home.
To apologize, I never spoke
and we slowly learned
how to be alone together,
our quiet sitting between us in the car
like we were driving it somewhere.

His fingers were the loudest
thing about him and they never stopped
drumming on the steering wheel or drawing
on his seat while we waited
for lights to change. I
destroyed one of his doodles for the first time
and when he suddenly turned,
pretending to yell
he shattered our seriousness
because he’d decided to say something
he didn’t have to.
We both smiled halfway,
stretching towards each other.

Later, the night
unpeeled itself as we drove,
Tyler’s headlights sharp
against the hills behind us.
We pulled over and stepped out,
both moving to lean on the fence
that pressed us away from the cliff.
The only lights were the ones
we’d just turned off
but we could still see and Tyler watched me
as I looked for something to say. But speaking
wasn’t important and everything I felt
had already been strung between us.

The wind moved close to our hair as we
uncrossed our arms, turning back
towards the waiting car.





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