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Unrequited Love - Dyanne Pajares.jpeg

We Will Almost Die Tonight

The night is ripe, almost dry, fresh out of the oven and well-stirred.  

I have to blot it out with my footsteps and rub it in my skin and share

It with someone before it runs out, like sand in an hourglass.

There’s nowhere to go. There’s nowhere left to go.

I’d never liked Dylan and Ellie. I’d loved Dylan since the days

We biked the streets and played WWII on the playground together,

And I’d loved Ellie for all of the three years and heaps bullshit

She’s dug me out of, but I won’t be able to say it tonight and I can say

It now so I’ve never liked Dylan and Ellie.

Dylan and Ellie will be three months strong when we almost

Die tonight, and Jackson and Chelsi more like eight. I won’t invite

Boyfriend, no, I’ll invite my friend from second period, the one who

I shoot shit with all day and argue about Marvel over DC and we

Look at each other like we’re peering into the hole of a birdhouse, all

Feathers and twigs and darkness and beautiful tangled things inside.

Friday afternoon, the scintillating October air will linger in the 

Shadow of the trees, the leaves painted cabernet and yellow oxide


And burnt peanut red. Dylan and Ellie and Him and I will leave school

Together, Boyfriend doesn’t know because Boyfriend’s in massage

Therapy school.

We’ll stop at Ellie’s before we almost die tonight, where she and

Dylan will stay they’re going inside to grab some blankets for the trip

When really they want us to think they’re going inside to bang on

The bed when really they’re going inside to fight because Dylan said

Something insensitive.

They will take half an hour. He and I, we’ll sit in the car.

Sit in the car and talk about ghosts. Do you believe in ghosts? I’m

Not sure.

When they return they will have folded dusty blankets under their

Arms and they will slam the trunk shut before we almost die

Tonight we will drive down to Jackson’s. I won’t know anything about

Jackson when he climbs in beside me, or anything about his college

Girlfriend Chelsi when she sits on his knee, but their laughter will

Light tangerine dreams in the car all night.

With them and all the blankets, I will have to press up against Him

In the backseat. Before we almost die tonight we drive and guitar

Strings pluck with brightness and night, and it will get cold in the car

But I’ll have to bite my tongue. My friend from second period will

Eventually find out anyways and wrap his arm around me and I won’t

Stop him.

Before we almost die tonight, I will peek at Ellie curling her

Pink fingers around Dylan’s knee and see them smile, and now the

Sky turns every shade between them through the glass window when

I tilt my head and my hair brushes his shoulder, until the night is

Blacker than ten thousand leagues under the sea. The lights come

And Ellie will scream.

We will be laughing after we almost die tonight. After we almost

Die tonight, we will reach the campsite, take out our blankets, and be

Stopped by a policeman who tells us to wait until he leaves before

Breaking out the booze.

Asshole, Ellie will say. Not really, says Jackson.

After we almost die tonight we will spend the whole night

Marching on into the dark jade forest and waiting for Dylan to finish

Peeing his name on the side of the parking lot.

We will not see where we’re going, we will imagine men in masks 

Chasing us on the dirt path between the trees and one time we’ll

Actually see them. Dylan will sling the guitar over his shoulder and

Ellie will speak silent pains to him and I will savor every syllable out

Of his mouth as they pair up together and sing, with Jackson and

Chelsi holding hands behind them and in the back, Him and I, we will

Walk together.

We will speak only of strangers and unbridled pasts and when

It’s quiet we will breathe in the crinkled leaves and carnival tenets of

Darkness. After we almost die we will reach the campsite, see the

Firelight and shiver, and decide to turn back. We will walk back to the

Car, scribble on napkins at the Tastee Diner, and go back to Ellie’s to watch a movie. After we almost die, Ellie will decide it’s too late to

Be kissing on her couch at 4am and kick us all out. And as I leave He

Will catch my hand, I’ll ask if he wants my glove, and he’ll say no. Hell

No, that’s not what I want. 

Boyfriend’s necklace burns my collarbone.

When we almost die tonight, it will be five minutes after we

Suggest putting Chelsi in the trunk, and ten minutes before we notice

The bullet holes in the speed limit sign. Ellie will drive on the left side

Of the road and no one will notice. We’re too caught up in each other.

And when we almost die everything will go blank for a bright glint of

A second, the same blank glint that maybe the world was born into,

The trunk lights blaze in our eyes and the horns blares as we swerve

Into the dirt. In that one moment Dylan will shout louder than I’ve ever

Heard him shout before, louder than he did on the playground when

We shot the infantry, louder than he did when he kissed a girl

For the first time backstage at a play.

Ellie will scream. Everything around me will shudder. In that

One moment I will be nothing but a tangle of matter suspended

In the atmosphere, propelled by own velocity and uncontrollable

Momentum. My soul will roll out of my eyes, spin around the world a

Couple times, wipe itself off and sweep back in. I’ll feel cleaner than I

Did before.

Ellie will breathe. We’ll wait until her nerves lost static and her

Mind has cleared. We’ll tell her it’s all right. It’s all right Ellie. But she’ll

Never do it again.

Dylan looks away.

Boyfriend finishes school but I won’t be there. You’ll find me in the

Night, I’m with the one I almost died next to in that car so dark, and

He’ll shake off today like sand and peel away the hours like jeweled


Peach skin, the scattered moon beams caught between our eyes as

He leans in for a kiss.

Unrequited Love by Dyanne Pajares, online publication

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