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Wicked Summer Game

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The school year had come to an end, and the days were full of ripe promise. In the heat and bright light of day, it seemed there were no wrongs in the world. Hollyhocks climbed into the blue sky, and the beetles that marred their foliage were picked off and drowned in cans of motor oil. Summer could be a messy business, but the iridescent wings of the doomed looked very pretty as they slowed and stilled themselves in the thick fluid.

There is a memory within a memory here, as a glass mason jar filled with dead beetles and oil gets replaced with an empty one, and I chase fireflies around in a corner of the backyard. Near a hedge of euonymus, I corner the pulsating bugs, lit from chemicals within, as they try to capture mates or call to friends or whatever the neon green light is for. Little stars of Gatsby’s great green dream glow and tease, just out of a little boy’s reach. It is a cruel thing, sometimes, to give a kid that kind of hope.

The world was on fire and no one could save me but you.
It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do.
I never dreamed that I’d meet somebody like you.
And I never dreamed that I’d lose somebody like you.
No, I don’t want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
No, I don’t want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
With you (This world is only gonna break your heart)

In the bedroom, when I was a little older, say the summer of ’91, I watched the street from my window. A book by Dickens fell to the floor. The CD had long since reached its last song. At night, all was gray, all was shadows, and the light of the moon crept in over the floor, over the bed, over the tendons of my wrist. Skin was somehow more true in the light of the moon. Strange how that happened, and I studied myself in the echoes of the sun’s reflection.

I wanted to marry the fireflies and save the beetles and go back and fix everything I had done wrong. I reached for the moon but it stretched farther away. ‘Don’t go,’ I whispered to no one, startling myself with the words. ‘Stay with me,’ I whispered to the night, but the night remained silent, moving slowly onward.

What a wicked game to play, to make me feel this way.
What a wicked thing to do, to let me dream of you.
What a wicked thing to say, you never felt this way.
What a wicked thing to do, to make me dream of you and…
I want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
No, I want to fall in love (This world is only gonna break your heart)
With you.

In the years to come, there would be men who whispered to me of love in the night. It’s always easier to whisper such things in the darkness. Safer, too. You stand a better chance of not being laughed at, or at least of not seeing the smile of victory, because there is always a victor in these matters. Usually it’s the one who is told they are loved who holds the power. True love, it is said, has nothing to do with power or victory marches, but the fact remains that the one who is told gets to hold the cards. Even if the teller is the more courageous soul.

Nobody loves no one.
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