Love You – Ally Shap

Ethan said we should curtain the windows and barricade the doors, and so we told each other we loved each other with every breath, as we knew to do/ as we had always done. I love you/ok I love you/ok goodnight.

Boys were always preparing that way. They knew where to hide the artillery and which cans to store and what soaps to buy and when and why it would happen. It was always going to happen, we were violent by default of course, (Hobbes etc etc.) But then again we [the smaller we] [the golden we], were also superstitious by default. We would lower our brows and mumble under our breath and save magic numbers and knock on wood and say G-d- forbid. It didn’t matter that we were Jewish, and it didn’t matter what or who we believed in, or whether we believed at all. We were fearful of it all: God(s), the stars, the chaos of possibility. We had it too good and we knew it. And so jewish guilt became catholic guilt and the numbness that came with gratefulness seeped into our bones and enveloped it all. I love you/ok I love you/ ok goodnight.

But we [the feminine we] [the sapphic we] had already fostered preparation in our minds. We nurtured the longing that came with loneliness and felt for worlds through the fiber of the page. Latching onto scents we could not smell and tasting rich butters we could not eat. We drank and we drank and we laughed and we danced and we did countless drugs that set us on fire and rooted us back to earth. And somewhere out there we knew it was all too real and all too good to be true. So when the boys told us to curtain the windows and barricade the doors we didn’t flinch. We knew that there were worse things than violence and fear. We knew what could not be sustained.

As for Ethan, to him Mom merely replied, “Unseen worlds have always existed. Those who can see them exist to teach those who cannot.” And with that we taught each other about the fear and the violence and the loneliness and the longing until we each knew both worlds inside and out. Never forgetting to say “I love you/ ok I love you/ ok goodnight.”