When My Best Friend’s First Love Slips Into A Coma, We Sit On Opposite Sides of the Bed Quietly

by Katie Grierson



She had loved him unrequited
since the small-scale spelling bee

in first grade when she stood
and spelled two t-o-o. And when I

giggled into my sleeve, she imagined him–
only a room away–thinking of her

and how he would make all w’s
into o’s. They were madly in love.

It was as real as the sharpened orange pencil,
rolling away after being stabbed into the soft

part of our thighs, the hurt only seconds
long. The lead hand-in-hand in us, poisonous and

forever. Our bodies still remember being
young, sunburnt, Catholic school

skirted and Jesus-loving. I wonder
what he remembers of the sun and how our

clip-on ties held its heat. A year older, I knew
the back of his head at a distance better

than I knew anything else about him. She had
never kissed him. Never opened her eyes

while their lips touched and recognized
the freckle on his eyelid as the most wonderful

thing she’d ever seen. I didn’t notice him
in high school. But she knew he went to parties

and sometimes, growing up and stumbling from a party,
would wander home, desert everywhere, the desert

inside him. A quiet loneliness buzzing through his fingers.
She went to the same college as him, and one day, slipped

out of love like a sock she’d worn for too long. He went boxing,
got hit in the head too hard, spent a few days in a coma, and

was gone. The local news showed photos of his girlfriend and
him. She’d wanted to marry him. We wondered why everyone felt so

young. Why the desert went on forever, homeless and grieving.


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