jellybeans and spaghetti

The first time he saw her:
what caught his eyes were the dried paints on her hands, the way it didn’t stop her from running her hands through her hair.
she ate her pastries with her hands, with no reluctance to licking the crumbs off her fingertips

Their first date:
when he sat down across from her at the coffee shop, she was the one who invited him over for dinner
when he acted surprised, she told him she read minds
they had spaghetti because that was all she knew how to cook
and for dessert she became fixated on a sundae seventeen miles away
she stole her brother’s Corvette, flooring the gas pedal in her sunflower flip-flops

The first time he met her parents:
they returned at midnight, after a tempestuous wave of subtle emotions
a cloud of ecstasy trailed them home, with a bit of cigarette smoke
her parents were preacher and preacher’s husband
and while disapproving, they shrugged, “girls will be girls.”

The first time he saw her cry:
she sat on the porch that feels no less like a fishbowl than
the dew on the grass feels like the sweat of her sweet tea glass
he strums his guitar, empathy plays in the form of melodies
he gave her a jar of jellybeans;
each color was a different reason to smile through a blurred happiness
each tear down her cheek traced a crevice that opened in his earth
her sadness pulled him down like an opened fault line, swallowing up humanity.

The first time he heard her dream:
was a little bit after he had made her smile, right after he dried her last tear
she sat up, criss crossed, the sheets a blinding white against her tan skin
and whispered, “i want to leave.”
when he asked, “why?”
she told him, “i like being the other parts of myself.”

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