By Edward Maloney
We never learned how to be naked. We took showers in bathing suits, we changed in the dark. We made love with our clothes on, looking up. We learned how to go to church without your parents. We learned to walk sideways, backs to the graveyard, until we learned not to be scared of the people in it. I learned that honesty is different when you’re on your own;
we did fine on our own. We bought an apartment, we bought a car, on paper we were happy. Sometimes you stacked up pennies in the bathtub, and when I knocked them over, you'd cry for hours. My paycheck came every other Tuesday, most times you’d baptize it in the sink. I learned that God cannot be bribed;
we were good at a lot of things. I could navigate any subway system in the world effortlessly. You could recite the entire Declaration of Independence. I could talk to strangers, and you could run faster. We learned to stare back at people. Once, your mother yelled at you to grow up at dinner, and now you put your fingers in your ears whenever I turn on the radio;
you had a sinking feeling about ships. I got lightheaded just thinking about planes. We drove to Oregon, because I wanted to see the Pacific, and I wanted you to see the Pacific. Despite the cold, you found yourself stripping in the dark to run towards something unleashed. We’ve never been since, but I would drive anywhere to know you again;
your parents would check in occasionally, I'd offer locations, they would give. We shared fragments of sentences. I begged them to know me: All-American, small dusty town, son of a real estate agent. They pushed not for happiness, but for us to resign to that Great Nothingness. I begged you to know me, sovereign, savior. I chose a better life for us, we don’t visit anymore;
you didn’t use silverware, because the glare danced around the walls and made you nervous. I threw away most of our clothes because you hated how the fabric felt on your skin. I calculated the furthest point we could drive away from home, and showed it to you on a map. You were always stealing the buttons from my shirt. When we went to bed, I tried to make myself as small as possible because you hated how I felt on your skin. I started to fall in love with the GPS;
before Christmas, I yelled at you for being retarded. You learned to forgive, so we spent New Year’s Eve hiding in the bathroom from the fireworks. You couldn't cook, so I stopped eating. I couldn’t fit all of me inside of you, you began to overflow. The only way I could make you laugh was showing you my driver’s license;
and now, the apartment has no furniture. You had to go back to that place because you weren't taking your medicine. Your parents came to collect your things while I was at work. I sit in the car with the doors locked, looking at the fingerprints that decorate the dashboard. I want to run, I lock the doors, it feels like I've been inhaling since the day I was born;
the gas hasn't bled out yet. Go west, there are no gloves in the glove compartment. Just a comb and a picture of us. Go west, keeping my foot on the fucking pedal. The water in the Pacific Ocean is four billion years old, and I will try to take in all the years at once. It is a vast, twitching thing, love. Going west, that's love. Riding on I-90, missing you is a long strip of road. I'm driving to Oregon, nonstop, through the night. I will see you at the Pacific.
Edward Maloney is a 15-year-old native of Washington D.C. A sophomore at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, his work has been featured in the literary zine Room 18, as well as the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center. He also received a Gold Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. For reading, he suggests Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.