I don’t want to be here when it starts to rain were the first words you stung me with. I led my fingers to my hair and you said we had time for a few drinks before I could even catch a ghost of an answer. The place was full, but you found a way to get the biggest table just for us. I watched your hands through my empty glass for what felt like both a lifetime and a sort of timelessness—how silly of me, thinking I could dodge your spell if I didn’t look directly at it. Outside, a clamour. Steam heat, your arms tied to mine. Take me home.

I still haven’t read The Waves, but it is nonetheless what I said when someone asked what my favourite book was at the bar yesterday. I’ve been meaning to get to it, I swear. It’s just that when I open the book—and I have opened the book so many times—the sight of your legs crossed in my bathtub—so casually, as if you didn’t notice what your perfect recital of lines I didn’t realize were so deliberately chosen did to me—floods my whole mind, and I can’t risk spoiling that with context. You left your copy at my place, sacredly wrinkled from the water, your both spontaneous and precise underlines in dark blue pen, but I think you already know.

I told my parents that you have died so they’d know there’s nothing left to do because there’s nothing left to do. They liked you a lot, you know, and I didn’t want them to get their hopes up, whatever those hopes might be. It’s not like you’d ever run into each other again, anyway,—my parents still live uptown, where you didn’t like to go, and you have moved back to the shores. I guess there was really nothing else keeping you here.

Am I a fool to think this is not how it ends? It shouldn’t matter what you think. It doesn’t matter what you think, and yet I’m still desperately trying to impress you, the same way I tried and tried when you first climbed the stairs to my apartment. You told me everything right away that night, then answered my sole question: neither a power nor a gift, just a craft. I won’t say I know what you meant, but, if it would make me yours again, I would tie my legs together and draw parallel lines on my neck with a knife. I would bathe my crotch in salt. I would let my mouth fill and fill. I would finally learn to be one with the waters, as a promise that there would always be something carrying me back to you.