by Cher Bibler
Tonight there is no light but the glow from around the streetlights. I am standing here waiting for you, but you don’t know it so you won’t come. I stand alone and look over the park past the swingset and the slide, into the darkness over the baseball field. This is such a sweet slow time when I’m alone and there’s no one to misunderstand me.
A car goes by slowly but I pretend not to see it. The air looks thick and foggy in front of its headlights. I hold in my breath until the echo of its sound dissolves and I’m alone again.
If I’d told you to meet me, you would have, but I’m still not sure about you. I pretend there is some magical way you will sense that I’m here and come to me, because this is the way I want you: I have a dream figure of you sketched out, how I’d want you to be if you knew that I wanted you, if you were sure of me. I know what reactions I’d want, things I’d want you to say and feel.
In a way this time is better than the real thing will be, this dream time; or so I tell myself. I am holding myself back, keeping this suspense, watching you.
I am sitting here with you. We’re talking about books. We’ve never read the same ones but we’re sure we’d both like them, if we had. I’m trying to tell you why.
I hold myself just far enough away from you so we don’t touch. I’m waiting for this to overwhelm you. When I first met you I never expected to feel this way about you. You were just an ordinary person; I had no warning.
I’m sitting crosslegged hugging my legs. I lay my head on my knees and look down at the carpet. You’re talking about your sister but I’m not listening anymore. Our conversations lately have drifted aimlessly.
I’m amazed at this thing that’s grown here between us. I analyze its beginnings, as far as I can dissect them. I can’t find the seed where it began, but I can see how it gathered momentum and how I witlessly encouraged it along.
I’m thinking about my last lover, and how he merged into the dream I had of him until I couldn’t tell them apart. I’ve had plenty of time to think about the mistakes I made with him and I keep them at hand for reference so I don’t make them again with you.
It’s not fair, I guess, to compare future lovers with past lovers, to make them compete with old ghosts grown mellow with memory, but at each step I’m reminded of the last time I felt this way, and sometimes your eyes merge with his eyes and I think there is only one man out there who keeps coming back to me in different disguises.
My old lover never really liked competing with my fantasy of him.
I have practiced conversations we will have someday; I’ve told your dream counterpart all the secrets about myself. He took it well. He was very understanding.
I sit here by you, not touching but close enough I can feel your body heat. I’m looking at your hands, studying the texture of your skin wondering how it would feel. It looks very soft and I wonder why that attracts me (stereotype—men are supposed to have strong hands).
I imagine how you would react right now to me touching you, but I don’t touch you. I sit wrapped in this thought.
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Cher Bibler is the author of About Irene, a novel told from the viewpoint of a collectible french fashion doll about her friends, her owners, and the things that happen around her. She has had poetry and fiction published in magazines such as The Evergreen Review, Amanda Blue and The Firelands Review. She sings in a rock band, edits an incredible online literary publication, and has perfected the art of making potato pizza. She currently resides in Merida, Mexico.
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photo by Skot Horn