There is a woman who I know whom I love who is close to me in ways I cannot possibly define. Oh, how I wanted to become her, to be as brave and as fearless, to be as shocking and clever and wily. Flames kindled on her red tongue. She chomped at the bit and crashed into lovers and drank long and belched hard. A million friends, every one of them in rapture. She told me secrets and I worshiped and I worshiped her. Embers rose into the air and she always jumped she always caught them she always fell.
She is cycling again, he says. Scraping knees, mystery bruises. Hospital visits, therapists, psychiatrists all lining up to douse this rogue fire, swiping at a chance maybe even to catch it to study it. Pills line the bathroom sink. It has been years. There is a woman who I know whom I’ve tried to love who is so close to me that I can no longer untangle her breath her thoughts from my own. She is burdened and ashamed and heavy and her fire is old, old, no hearth fire, no bobbling lantern in dark night. Just a weak candle, sputter, reaching, reaching for air, waiting, thinking this is my time. Thinking this is it, this is it and then the fall.