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She and I, and some mutual friends, are lounging about on the deck of the sort of yacht they use in rap videos. Or maybe a helipad. It's surrounded by water. I flicker.

I'm swimming in a Sandals resorts commercial, or a Las Vegas hotel aquarium. Not swimming in it's water, but in its essence, colors too bright and water too blue and stone bluffs too proud. It's the artificial majesty and splendor of nature. There are turtles, and fish. I can breathe under water, but swim at the surface anyway.

Flicker. She's seated across from me, leaning back on her hands, shoulders stretched up and feet forward. She's wearing one of those collared short sleeve shirts that she looks so good in. This one is striped blue and black.

Flicker. I'm back in the water, with a fat balding man in business casual chatting amiably about the place I'm swimming in. He talks like a tour guide, or real-estate agent. I hear the words "Hearst's Castle" as I'm swimming through a canyon as bright as a food fight with the Lost Boys, as solemn as the funerary carvings in some ancient gorge. Hearst might have financed this natatorium but he could never have designed it. It's unreal in its hyperrealism.

Flicker. She's the next person over from me now. We could touch if we both reached just past comfort or propriety.

Flicker. I emerge from the water up tremendous sandstone steps that stretch to accommodate a giant's stride. I manage them comfortably, completely dry, and join my friends on the platform where I've been seated the entire time.

Flicker. She's actually next to me. Sometimes our elbows bump, or hands brush. Flicker. Our hips are touching. I notice a mutual friend or two look askance at us. She either doesn't notice or doesn't care. Flicker. My arm is around her waist, then rubbing her back, then around her shoulders. We lean into each other.

Somebody says something and the collective decides that the party is over, or at the least needs to relocate. As she stands I sweep her up in my arms. I've done the opposite of get up. Impulsively holding her to my chest, I've lain down. Gravity pulls her and her lips down and she kisses me.

Her lips are cool and fresh and sweet. I kiss her back, but oh so lightly, because I want it so goddamn badly. The moment lasts a lifetime and is gone in an instant. But then I come to my senses. She's married. I even like the guy. She kisses me again, and again, sweet summer rain on my lips in quick light drops, but all I do is hold her to steady myself against that hurricane. I catch her eye and find the briefest reprieve.

"But I thought-"

"I do." God do I. "But you're married."

I am weak and insufficient in many ways; I draw strength from it. "I have no job, no place to live," I tell her. Being a loser is one of the few things I have, so it might as well work for me. "I can't let you give up your life for me." Her husband never comes up, but neither of us can forget the elephant in the room.

By now we've stood up and are walking the long perfect white plank away from the platform and back to wherever this infernal slice of paradise is. She looks so distraught, so confused. Her sadness is one of my weaknesses, and it betrays me.

"...two years," I say, confident and commanding, wretched and unsure.


"In two years I'll have a job and a house, and if you feel the same, we can talk about it again."

"Can you do it?" Her question feels sudden and sharp, her doubt the forbearer of the death of my hopes. It hurts me, and so I fight it with all the sureness I can muster.

"Now I can."

We walk towards nothing, my hand around her waist, her hand in my hand.


I like it when I dream of her. It's the only time we get to talk.

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