In my creative writing classes, it is so easy to get sucked into my own stories- nonfiction focused, feeling like I might betray someone by not telling something accurately, or doing so and exposing some unwanted truth. As for this piece, I turned a story about an amazing friendship into a prose poem.
We stole these leather bracelets on our sporadic road trip to Berkeley. They were from the Marc Jacobs store stuffed tightly into the Haight and Ashbury streets of San Francisco. We called it an accident, I had already spent a pretty penny on plaid boxers and a wallet that I probably didn’t need. We held this Latin phrase, save me and I will save you, on our wrists not realizing the truth in it. Two months of weathering the leather through midnight runs to the pier for a quick dip and letting sun dry out our over tanned skin, you and I both lost our bracelets in the lake nearby. The seaweed and ducks took them down to the depths of the silken mud. But not to worry, in a few months we gave our phrase a permanent home; me on my left hip, yours on your right. We didn’t tell anyone when we went downtown and let the ink sink into our sides. It’s one of my favorite tattoos, did you know? People always ask us why the hell we did it, and if I had the time or care to indulge them, I think I would tell them something like this:
I lay with you out on our rooftop. Our bodies just barely fitting between the ridges of the tin garage cover supporting us. It wasn’t a clear night, but we could see enough through the gray smug clouds for you to imagine past nights of star gazing with him. I made the hot chocolate too strong. Sorry. But you still craned your neck up to the oversized mug to dip your lips into the steaming concoction. We bundled in thick soccer socks and two sweatshirts apiece. I held your hand while you tried to cry silently; I heard you the whole time, did you know? I’m sorry I said. But you only laughed and replied, Why? We’re celebrating his birthday, not his death.