Keep Art Alive :: Art by Ryan Hewett
“I don’t want to judge
What’s in your heart
But if you’re not ready for love
How can you be ready for life?”
Rae had walked to the end of the wired fence, past the dirt road, a stone’s throw away from the church. “A stone’s throw”? Who comes up with these sayings anyway? These measures of time and space? Rae pictures a young girl with stones in her pockets, weighing her down, keeping her low to the ground; at each curve in the road the young girl would palm a stone, steady her stance, stretch an arm behind her body, and throw.
When Laney came into view she was about two stone throws away from where Rae stood waiting. She was wearing a dress full of flowers, full and paper thin material that blew around her in every direction in the same way her hair did. Her hair was an orange color now, vibrant, on fire. Everything about Laney was in big bold colors. Everything about Laney was on fire.
Rae watched her, unaware that she was holding her breath. She could feel the tightening in her stomach, the tension that crept up each leg, the heat that swirled between them. Rae had never felt this way about anyone, she didn’t know she could feel this way before now, that it was a possible way to feel.
Rae wondered why people ever split up, or stopped being with each other, if this is what it felt like. Or maybe they didn’t feel like this at all, maybe it was just like when that boy Ryan with the torn jeans kissed her in the back of the movie theater, back home (was that home?). His hands had slid down her sides, landing on each hip where he pulled her closer to him, closing any gap of space, or air between them, and all Rae could do was count numbers in her head, seconds tick-tocking away in her mind, each one a second closer to her having to do it, the kissing and the touching. She had felt numb, grey and hollow and nothing at all, as if he wasn’t there either, his fingers and lips and tongue just an illusion.
The first time Laney had touched her, Rae had felt she might die of too much feeling. It had just been Laney’s palm lain atop the back of her hand, a quick touch that was over too soon, but for hours after Rae could feel it radiating from the space Laney’s hand had been to every inch of her skin, every tip of each hair on her body, and down deep into the marrow of her bones. Looking at her now, at Laney walking towards her, she felt it all again, crash crash sudden and severe, nearly knocking her to the ground. If she hadn’t been holding her breath the sight of Laney would have stole it from her.
That was days ago now, weeks maybe, and while she sat in the dusty police station looking at a photo booth shot of Laney, crumpled up once and now smoothed out, frayed edges and a unnatural gray hue permeating Laney’s unfocused gaze, Rae felt like it had been a lifetime ago.
“Lay back, Rae. Close your eyes. Let me kiss you. We may not be here tomorrow.”