We miss each other… the way two warring snipers miss each other for hours or days on end. The battlefield is littered with fog and smoke, obstacles and corpses of who we were and the wreckage of it all. We fought a prolonged campaign of long distance tag. A text message. A late night phone call. Both hiding and shooting but never truly making any real contact.
We waged this war for weeks. All I thought about was her. All I wanted was her. But all I could muster is a stray shot every few days. Missing her was a constant gnawing pain, a fever that pulled at my bones and muddled my head. But missing her, taking that chance to start a dialogue only to have it ignored or brushed aside, that killed me. No matter how many times I thought over the phrasing or the timing, how many times I rewrote the lines it always came out like the sharp crack of a bullet spiraling down the barrel of a rifle. There would be no re-connection, no rekindling.
I knew there were guys taking her out on dates… social media let me be eaten alive by my own curiosity-monsters as they gnawed at me relentlessly. I checked in on her frequently, now an outsider peeking through a window on my lap into her quickly fleeting world. I hoped somehow she was doing the same. I buried myself in other girls, each one more shallow and hollow than the last. No amount of rouge or soft skin could satisfy me. Each experience left me feeling all the more alone and missing her. I hoped she was feeling the same. I hated every single one of the guys she was out with.
Finally, she texts me that she’s dropping off my stuff. She’s leaving it outside of my car in my parking spot, unwilling to face me directly. This makes me furious, to have my things so casually and cowardly discarded. I tell her I have things of hers to give her. She says she’ll wait. I bolt down the stairs with the tattered Orange Dress in hand. I see my things piled neatly outside of my car. She’s parked on the side. I stride up to her and throw the dress through her open window. I go back to my car and begin putting my stuff away. Weights. Books. Heavy things from our past life I was too quick to grab, things she laboriously carried back to me.
She exits her car. I hear her car door close and see her approaching me I ignore her and continue stuffing my belongings into my truck. I hold tightly to my anger, unwilling to feel anything else. She catches me in an embrace. We stand there in silence for what seems like an eternity. Reluctantly, my arms wrap around her. I’ve missed this. I’ve missed her warmth. I breathe in the familiar scent of her hair. My mouth finds her mouth, it’s a salty and hungry kiss. I press my body against hers, feeling the squish of her breasts against my chest, the curve of her hips against my own. Instinctively I put my hand between her legs, reaching up her skirt. She stops me. I can see the the same passionate hunger gnawing in her eyes, pulling at her.
“Do you want to go driving somewhere?”
We go barreling up the mountainside in her car. I look over at her; she’s more beautiful than I ever remembered. More alive, more vibrant than ever before. This time apart has refreshed us, renewed her energy and renewed my thirst for her. The orange dress is on the floor of the passenger seat at my feet. I wrap it around my foot, like a fork twirled in rancid spaghetti. It clings to me like a wounded animal. The road we’re on is a series of hazardous switchbacks, zigzagging back and forth. I can’t take my eyes of her. She keeps looking over at me. There’s a strong likelihood these longing gazes will end up getting us killed. The dress is in my lap. I stroke it, like a super villain stroking his cat. There was something important I was supposed to remember about this dress. Something about the texture. Something about the color. Something tugging at the nape of my neck, ready to unravel everything.
“Throw it out the window!” she yells.
“Just like that?”
I dangle the dress out the window, my clenched fist unwilling to let go. The wind whips it from my grasp pulling it out into the black night. With that one sweeping gesture, every past slight is forgotten. Every wrong and every fault of who we were and the damage we did to each other leaves the car with that horrible tattered garment. At the top of the mountain, we’re together. Talking, reconnecting. The misery that I carried with me for months drops off of me like a heavy iron cloak and instead we are draped together in a joyous veil of each other. It colors the night so the stars sparkle brighter, the air tastes crisper, and every breath every second is better than the one before it. Eventually words fail and steam fills the windows, we’re doubled over each other in the backseat. We drive back to her place and the night fades in a tumbling blur of sex and ecstasy. I wake up with her face inches from mine. I spend the morning just gazing at her, trying to relearn every curve, every line, every nuance of her face, a memory I tried so hard to repress. This is the happiest I’ve been in months.
It isn’t until the next morning, the glowing morning haze when she’s driving me back to my apartment. I spy something on the ground of the passenger seat. A torn strap from the orange dress, a little twisted larva wriggling for survival. She hasn’t seen it. I tuck it into my boot. I don’t know why I kept it– but I did.