SWORDFERN
Rooted, I used to think.

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Happy Birthday - Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019
The Cabin - Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019
Radiance - Thursday, Nov. 07, 2019
Next Summer - Monday, Nov. 04, 2019
The Best Thing - Friday, Nov. 01, 2019


Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 @ 2:02 pm
Happy Birthday



We book a trip to the desert.

I dream of sunshine and cacti and climbing on red sandstone and running my hands across his hot, fragrant skin. Diving into a pool of cool, blue water. Palm trees. Tequila.

***

It’s Friday, and I work late. He finishes at a work-related happy hour and messages to see what I’m doing. I check online for tickets to the circus, and I find two sixth-row seats for cheap. Two hours before showtime.

I change into a black dress. Nothing to be done with my hair but put it up into a mop with pieces falling out, light brown and gold wavy bits, with a piece that tucks behind my ear. We meet at the casino for a drink. He tells me that I’m the prettiest girl in the bar. I laugh and kiss his cheek. I know that he is not lying, but I also know that no other girl touches him the way that I do. The butterflies that flit around his head; the oxytocin that courses through his blood.

We walk over to the whimsical tents that appeared on the undeveloped waterfront a month ago. Popcorn and children and butterfly costumes. We sit beside each other in the tiny seats and watch the acrobats and clowns and puppeteers with awe and wonder. I am mesmerized. His hand holding mine the entire time.

We cycle home through the rainy night. Others huddle under umbrellas, but we ride with our hoods down, rain streaming across our faces, laughing and reveling in the beauty of the night. Alive. Lush. Vibrant.

***

One Thursday night, after Lindy hopping for four hours, we lay on the couch exhausted, damp and clean from showers. We talk quietly, his hand on the back of my neck, my hands under the blanket against his skin. He tells me that we have the most intimate relationship that he’s ever experienced, and I blush and try to hold onto the warmth that explodes within me.

***

The next Friday, we climb and then head out into the night. Food and drinks and then going into a funny little neighbourhood dive bar. The small dance floor, the sweet smell of the smoke machine, and top 40 hits. It’s a gay club, and two men dance together beside us. Here we are, dancing together and laughing, and I might be nineteen again at the Rage at the Plaza of Nations.

Age. His age. My age. At first, when I met him, I thought that the age was problematic. And now, the only problem is that I fear him dying before me. I fear him leaving me alone, of never feeling his hands on me again. Of rolling over in the morning and not having him there to hold me.

His birthday arrives, and he turns another year older. He opens the card that I made for him, a watercolour of the climbing bluffs. He opens his gifts, and I watch his reaction from behind a hot mug of coffee, the sun rising and flashing pale pink hues across the clouds that loom over the harbour. After opening everything and reading his card, he stands and comes over to me, and we hug for a long time. I am not the best at birthdays, and I hope that I made him feel loved.

We do all of these things together, going to see a Broadway musical, going to the mountain film festival. Having brunch at a friends house. Our lives intertwined, moreso me falling into his. And yet, he comes to my family dinner, and my mother hands him a birthday card, and I can see that he’s surprised and happy.

***
We come home from his birthday dinner. I am wearing a dress that he’d never seen, mascara, and my necklace with the tiny, perfect diamond that falls right at the place on my chest where I yearn to be touched. The most sensitive place, where the skin is thin, with barely a skim of flesh between the outer world and my heart.

He comes over to sit beside me on the couch. He kisses my neck and traces his fingers across the diamond. Begins to unbutton my dress.

Happy Birthday.


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