“All these things,” he said, “that I want to do to you.”
By Mary-Kim Arnold
Once a boy pressed his face against a windowpane and crossed his eyes to make me laugh.
Once a boy said: I hear you are Korean and I am Japanese so this will never work between us.
Once in the bright sun of a summer afternoon, drunk on sweet wine and cigarettes, a boy put his lips to my cheek and kissed down the length of my neck.
Once a man shouted at me from his car as he drove past. I was waiting for a bus and it was raining.
Once a man pulled me into an elevator and pressed himself against me as the doors closed. In the trembling machine, we ascended, our bodies entwined. At the top floor, we let the doors open, then close again. And then we went down.
Once I waited in the lobby of a hotel for hours. I checked my watch and paced. I reapplied my lipstick.
Once I ran through the streets of the city in the dark until I could no longer hear his ragged breath behind me.
Once I pretended I was dying. A sickness in the blood.
Once I knelt on the wooden floor of an empty apartment in a blindfold and vinyl boots. I heard footsteps on the stairs. A door opening then closing. The clicking of a lock.
But all of that came later.
Once I filled a tub with milk. Once I scattered rose petals. Once I lit so many candles I singed the ends of my hair.
I burned the tips of my fingers. I let ice cubes melt in my open palms.
Once I sped through driving rain to meet you. Once you held my hair in your clenched fist. Once you led me through a winding, wooded path where green moss clung to tree bark and the grass was wet underfoot.
Once, by the ocean, in the blue morning light, you stood on the porch of our rented house. You called to me through the open window.
Your voice on the breeze, my name in your mouth, calling, calling, calling.
Mary-Kim Arnold’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming at Tin House, The Rumpus, HTML Giant and The Lit Pub. She is a contributor to Anobium. She was born in Seoul, Korea, grew up in New York and now lives in Rhode Island with her family. She blogs at mkimarnold.tumblr.com and spends too much time on twitter: @mkimarnold.