In the watered down version of you, you are merely an acquaintance not the love from my youth. In this version, you are smaller with those thin hands that keep slipping through mine. And, yes, you still speak with a bit of a southern accent, but it’s not smooth or gentle. This voice does not grasp me at once wrapping me in the light that was you. Those sweetheart-sugar pie-baby doll-honey-peach words are not lingering in the air. No, for you aren’t charming or inviting just lost. I think of you as lost.
And that day, that one day, on the 8th of July, when I find you on the street, “Excuse me, oh,” you say, a sweep of finger on my skin, “My, it’s you.”
I was thinking of your touch then, still, your touch has a slight tingle, but I tell myself there is no electricity. No shock really or heat rising over the goose-bump flesh. And, you can’t speak to me anymore with those gray-green eyes, holding me inside. For today, finally, on this day I can see the black ones, those black eyes, black-black.
Look at you now. Ta da, you are slim weak, but my glass is full. I diluted you. I drank it in. Sure, I cheated with a trick but then so did you? You cheated me and yourself didn’t you? You and your edginess all the slipping and slipping away, glassy eyed, with the pipe, those needles, your ruins. See, in this watered down version of you, come look, closer, I swallowed you. The memories go down-down-down. It doesn’t burn completely.
Angela Carlton has previously published other stories in Burst Magazine, Pedestal Magazine, Long Story Short, Pindeldyboz, Storyglossia, The Dead Mule and Coastlines. In addition, she won the Reader’s Choice award with Pedestal Magazine in 2006.