by Yuna Kang
I remember him like the last of dewdrops before it storms out, sunny, the morning vestiges of blistering light.
And of course he is not really like that. I remember him when it was the last time we went up to Tahoe in late spring to see the last of the winter wildflowers. Alternately, his hands found themselves between my thighs, on the steering wheel, and dipping back into the spoiling recesses of his star-stricken mind. Silence was an abscess to us, and at this point we had nurtured it for far too long.
So we drove silently, past gas stations and the doll museum and redwoods and fantastic views. And as we were driving to clearer skies I couldn’t help but remember that one time we lounged in a field of wild mustard, half-sick from sleep deprivation, and we were laughing at the geometry of telephone poles.
“Look, Adrian.” He’d say.
“See how the sound bounces away from the lines.”
If you stand under the aging telephone poles behind the drugstore at the intersection near home and an old church, you can hear an insistent humming sound that mimics the remnants of a tinnitus-stricken mind. The field prefers its malady of gold, and the invasive mustard sticks to you everywhere. Underneath the telephone wires, you are sound, you are distance, and then when you move, you are gone.
And twilight became that field of sticky gold petals, and we had to pack up our picnic things to go home. We would be yelled at and cried for, but that was normal.
There are no telephone poles up here. It is just quiet. When we step out of the car, an icy breeze accosts us like a glare.
I reach to hold your hand, and you pull away from me. That was how our trip in Tahoe ended.
I have tried girlfriends. And boyfriends. And all of the spaces in between, colorful gasps that refuse shape and category.
I didn’t love you the most out of all of them. But it was nice while it lasted.
When we got to the top of the mountain, the way you looked at me, I knew it was all over then. You were, as they say, bored of me. Later on you would tell me that I was the most perfect man you had ever known, and you don’t know what’s wrong, why you don’t, love me.
And I knew then that it’d be okay. Things fall apart sometimes, but we pick up the broken pieces and, half-stapled together, we limp forward into the complicated fractures of life.
But you still think something is wrong. It’s what drives you to text my old numbers at haphazard hours, it moves you to write stormy letters and to mail them, stamped with kisses, to estranged relatives and old addresses. It compels you to send flowers to the workplaces of half-friends, telling them to get it through, it is the leaving of gifts on the doorsteps of neighbors distant to me, and legally accessible to you. If they decide to converse with you, you accost them with the fable of our brilliant failure of a romance.
It could happen again, he insists. If Adrian would just pick up the fucking phone.
His breath is the preface of aged whiskey; sip slowly, it warns. His eyes are shot with the veins of Valentine, and stumbling is his attempted dance.
He says I am the best thing that has ever happened to him, and that only a fool would let me go.
But I’m reminded of that day we spent in a field of mustard, looking at old telephone poles. We spent it alternatively inside and out of each other, moving in and through at uneven, heavy paces. When we came to at the reality of twilight, we had run out of things to say or do to each other.
So we lay there, in perfect silence, watching the sky fall darker, and darker, onto us.
Sometimes life is like that. You say and do everything you want to do with someone, and then you’re done.
But you want more. You want roses and wine and chocolate and dollar-store fiction. You want it all, and then more, and then more again. What we had wasn’t enough for you. What we could have, won’t be enough for you either.
I wish you the very best, November Gil.
Yuna Kang is a queer, Korean-American writer based in Northern California. She has been published in journals such as Strange Horizons, Sinister Wisdom, and more. They were also nominated for the 2022 Dwarf Stars Award.