LOVE IS A HOT STOVE YOUR HEART KEEPS TOUCHING by Jeanine Skowronski

First crush

 

He’s two initials carved into a spiral notebook, a heart written, hidden, on the inside of your wrist in purple gel pen, a sun-lit silhouette with a side part and a backpack, single-strapped, two sneaker tongues seconds away from coming undone, not like yours, but like you, you see, especially when you see him, no, when you sense him on the perimeter, your periphery, pupils dilating, neck hairs standing on edge. And he’s someone to talk about, you know, not someone for you to talk to, fingers wrapped around a phone cord, not a lock of hair; except, sometimes, just sometimes, when the moon is full and frosted or the sun is high in the sky and burning bright, you wonder: Should I tell him? And someone, anyone, everyone, your best friend, your fake friends, your momma, your poppa, your mailman, your dentist (really, it was just your big sister) laughs and says no, of course not, why would you

 

First kiss

 

Ummm … he’s a pile of limbs on linoleum, a pair of lips some bloated bottle picked for you to kiss, a fine-enough face, you guess, and yet you’re feeling sort of sick, but not dizzy, a stomach full of crickets, not butterflies. And everyone’s cheering, they’re leering, so there you go, you’re leaning, you’re licking two rows of teeth, which part (rather suddenly) for his (not your) tongue, a tongue served cold, not warm, the heel of a pre-cooked ham jammed against the roof of your mouth; sticky, like your fingers, like that blasted bottle of blackberry schappes, except salty and a little sour, not sweet; the taste, sadly, of too many tongues, too many kisses, to come. 

 

First time

 

He’s your safety net; no, no, he’s more like your safety school, this boy, the boy next door, the one you could like, the one you should like, everyone — your momma, your poppa, your sister, your mailman, your dentist — says, and so you do like him, you figure, at least enough to do it, this thing that you’ve decided (rather suddenly) needs to get done. And it could be special, it could be special, it could be nice, you think, because he’s nice, he’s nice, he’s fine, you’re fine, everything’s fine, everything’s jfkeioafepjdcnaoediwafjljdaoifj[d[ashjdoS………… and it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s done mostly, an item crossed off your grocery list, you guess, like eggs; yeah, yes, it’s eggs, it’s a carton of eggs wrapped in plastic and placed in a paper bag on top of some oversized soap cans, between two bags of frozen peas and a fluffy head of lettuce; cracked open later and only a little, really, maybe, you think, when the phone doesn’t ring, when he never, ever calls. 

 

First love

 

This guy, this guy, the guy, a god, really, your god, chewing up the room, sucking all the air from your lips, your lungs, your body, and so you shrivel, you’re shriveled, you’re little, but it’s good, really, totally good, great, even, perfect, in fact, because now you fit so snugly in the crook of his arm; his long arms, grazing, but never exactly resting on your shoulders, his palms either too hot or too cold to hold, and so you never do (really, he never does). And he’s not him. You know that. But he is him, you see? And so, you are here, you are here, you are waiting, frost-bitten and sun-stroked; you are waiting for a warmth that you think, that you know, that you think that you know now will never come. 

 

And yet

And yet

And yet


Jeanine Skowronski is a writer based in N.J. Her work has appeared in Reflex Press, Tiny Molecules, Complete Sentence, Crow & Cross Keys, Lunate Fiction, and Fewer than 500.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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