Little Mountain

We were laying down when one of us sat up.
We had parked at the side of the mountain. It was still pretty early in the morning. The air was warm and dry and sometimes moving. We walked along a creek for a little while, and I asked Lily if she wanted to go swimming. But she didn’t. She smiled at me and held me around my waist. Along the path I found a tall branch and brushed it off. I climbed faster and further, Lily yelling at me to wait up. We walked around the peak and found a good view, stretching over southern Connecticut. I ate a pear and Lily a plum, and I held her for some time. It felt good to hold someone like that and I knew if I wanted to, I could keep holding her. I kissed her on the back of her shirt. It was wet with sweat. I felt myself throbbing with the coil of waxing love. After a while some other people started to show up at the peak and I could feel our quiet morning was coming to an end. Children and dogs. Sandwiches. We went out further on edge.
―Some kid fell from this, Lily said. ―He fell and his leg was caught on a branch and it held him there for hours before he was rescued.
―He lived?
―Yeah. Yeah. But like, Lily was playing with a rock in her hands, ―he hit his head a bunch of times on the fall down. Lost his teeth and brain damage.
―Jesus, what the fuck. There was a lot of broken glass here and some beer cans. The glass looked like it had been broken off or something; it was dulled and warped with time and I noticed a fresh and sticky plastic bag inhabited by many insects.
It was about that time we would go, and we were standing up, dusting off our shorts when Lily saw Steven. He walked with his father and girlfriend out onto the peak’s ridge. They hugged and spoke for a moment.
Steven was dirty and tall, and I didn’t think much of him. At parties he brought his ukulele and sang such that everyone had to listen. He had a beard and wore a tank top and ripped jean shorts. His girlfriend sort of looked like him and did not speak, and his father moved sideways after exchanging some interaction with Lily. They left soon, walked down the side of the little mountain as soon as they’d come.
In the car, I said I didn’t like Steven.
―He’s fine… Better than he was.
―I don’t like… I don’t know. Other people.
―I mean, no. Just not Steven. His music, he’s dirty. His face.
Lily mumbled something I couldn’t hear. She drove and we sat in silence. I saw a sushi place, a sub place, a blimp in the sky.
―Whose penis is bigger, I said after a while.
―Are you serious?
―Why are you being this way.
―Stop that. Lily’s face looked like she’d been lying on it weird.
―Well, I mean. You would have just said mine if mine was bigger.
―That’s not true. You’re acting insane.
―Yes. A little, I guess. I rolled a rock from the mountain around in my hand. I thought about breaking the passenger seat window with the rock.
―You know I love you.
―I know.
―Why do you say stupid things?
―Because I’m stupid. Then I sat for a little while. Then I decided to say, ―Steven is a deadbeat.
―Yes. Maybe. Maybe not. Lily put on the radio and we listened to somebody talk about a coffee cup we could get if we gave the station money.

Nights later, we lay in bed. It was late and getting later and I was well. Some soft song played from the stereo and I stretched out, moving my jaw around, which quickly became yawning. The room was dark, nothing to illuminate the drapes, the moon gone for a while, behind a haze, or maybe, simply, out of view forever. Lily’s lips were moving, small noises escaping between them, but I didn’t think to listen much. I rolled around. I moved around and was ready to go under, when I was shaken to consciousness. ―Are you asleep.
I breathed a sound to reply.
―Don’t go to sleep, Alex. It’s early, talk to me.
It’s early, I thought. It was dark. I didn’t like the way my body felt. It was parts of it. The parts of it was the sheets. Kept feeling like falling into something.
It must have been late, I thought. Though it could have been early. It was probably early. ―I’m awake.
―I love you, Lily said.
―I love you too. We lay in silence then for the remaining time of that moment, the simple ticking away of instances. I felt a calm and basic migration of warmth, my head lolling back around, a feeling of being submerged in the time. That familiar pressure.
―What are you thinking about?
I strained some faint response, and moved myself around in bed, maintaining something, somehow to stay conscious. More things passed. The feeling was excruciating. My body was adorned with sleep. I spoke, if only to fight this feeling. ―About the mountain. Little mountain. And about, how warm I am. I am warm with you. I moved, with nothing less than a struggle, turning to hold her. Lily’s frame was so small, I thought. My arms around her ribs.The heat of our bodies began to stick and I felt her. Her breasts cupped in my hands, I positioned them around. The flat and soft stomach, filled with pistachios, chocolate. The tips of her nipples, pink, shrinking and hard. I moved my hand to her crotch and, then around to her ass. Lily moved against me, and turned her head. We maintained this for some time, and I removed Lily’s shorts and my own. She shifted against my movements. I pushed myself against her, moving upward into her, but not entirely. Around a bit, and for a bit of trying, but not succeeding, and I turned away.
―I’m sorry, she said. ―This isn’t working.
―I know.
―I’m not wet.
―Oh. Yeah.
―Sometimes that happens.
I didn’t say anything.
―I can’t control it, she said.
―Oh. I know, but I felt confused and a little unaware of myself.
―It’s not my fault. Don’t be mad.
―I’m not.
―We can try something else. There was some silence between us. ―I cannot be on top, though. I have a stomachache.
―Oh. Never mind.
―What are you doing?
―Nothing. I’m tired now. I can’t do it anyway, I said. ―See. I guided her hand.
―Oh. Sorry.
―Don’t apologize. Let’s just go to sleep.
―Don’t turn away like that. You are mad at me.
―No. I’m not. Really.
―You are. I can tell from your voice.
―But I’m not. I tried hard to listen to the sound of my voice.
I lay on my side feeling nothing in particular.
―Please don’t be mad.
―Stop, I said.
―Stop talking about it. I said it was fine. I said I wasn’t mad.
―You are mad. It’s obvious you’re mad.
I rubbed my head a little with my hands. I closed my eyes and touched my eyelids covering my eyes. ―I wasn’t mad about that. I wasn’t.
―But now you are. Lily was doing something, I could hear. Moving slightly, sitting up, I guessed.
―I am mad that we are still talking about this. Why are we talking about this.
―Because you are blaming me for something I can’t control.
―Blaming you. I could feel myself feeling myself losing sight of anything happening in that moment. I felt utterly distant. I imagined my body floating through darkness, on the phone somehow, dealing with this. No stars, no light. I could not see myself, logically, I thought, but there I was.
Lily had been talking. ―Let’s not do this.
―We’re not doing anything… Please, just drop the conversation. I just want to lie here. I feel tired.
―You won’t even face me.
―I just don’t feel like talking about this anymore.
―Then stop. You’re the one that keeps talking about it.
I picked up my pillow and moved it around a lot and dropped it. ―No, I said. ―From the beginning I said I just wanted to drop it and lie here.
―Stop that. You were mad.
―We are still talking about this. How can we make this go away. I want this to go away.
―Stop talking about it. It’s just annoying, I don’t know. I’m leaving tomorrow, I don’t want to have this hanging between us.
―It’s not… I felt incredibly desperate for a moment. Then it was whatever. ―Please. Just hold me now, on my side like this. This can all just go away.
―It can’t just all go away. You say you want to fix things, but this isn’t how you fix things.

I fear, years later, that I’ve lost my sense of humor. The funny birds in the park were mine alone. The pigeon that flew up to the eighteenth floor to have a poop on me.
The neighborhood did its thing. The EAT MORE KALE stickers fell off of refrigerators and bumpers. The guy at the bagel shop gave us a pissy look when we went inside, put out his cigarette on the side of the wall and someone else fucked Lily until she left the state.
I remained a giggling mess.

Two months later was the beginning of the fall semester, I found a wart on my finger. I sat in the bathroom, lighting matches, blowing them out, placing them on the wart. I pushed in, violently, sounds of charred flesh rising out through the drainpipes. Lily and I cut my hair and I showed her the scab of my wart.
―Don’t touch me, she said, kissing my penis and hair, and I laughed, but made sure I didn’t, a pigeon hopping across the windowsill. I ingested orange juice and vitamins prescribed by my doctor and started teaching classes again. The kids all knew Spanish, and they used this against me.
―Te amo, someone said, and I turned around. My neighbor was standing in the bathroom with us, my member jutting out against Lily’s left cheek.
The matches piled up in the sink, and over time, my insomnia worsened.

But that night when I could’ve slept, ―I told you it can end. This is going nowhere. We aren’t communicating anything in this. Just drop it like I said.
―I’m sorry, I’m just not like that.
―We are polarized. This conversation is polarized.
―Okay fine, Lily said. ―It’s over. She moved close to me and put her arms around me and so much warmth and goodness came over me, and I felt so much love and admiration for her in that moment. I let her hold me and she said goodnight and I said goodnight. Lily kissed the back of my neck and her arms were wrapped around me so tight, I felt safe and real and whole. I could feel between my legs that I was righted by this and I turned, now putting my arms around her, I kissed her on the cheek and mouth. I moved my body with hers and kissed her on the neck, my hands on her ribs and breasts and ass. I licked her neck a little and kissed her more. Lily touched me with her palms. ―What are you doing, she said.
I didn’t respond, really, but turned around and tried to sleep. I could feel that Lily was asleep soon and that my body was in that condition, that it was aimlessly lying in existence, and I stood up. In the bathroom, I masturbated quickly and returned to bed. I asked Lily to move over a little and fell asleep some time after that.
In the morning Lily left. Like I was already forced to experience things from a separate perspective, like the weight she had brought out of the room with her made me have to take up more of that world’s percentage, or like the haze I saw hanging over the sky when I opened the shades a few hours later, most stuff is completely out of control.