You lie awake, tired and lonesome underneath a horrifyingly new patchwork blanket of your dead grandfather’s old clothing. The boy dropped you off thirty minutes ago, and you walked the half mile up your secluded driveway in the middle of the last dark hour before dawn broke. The pine trees buzzed with morning birds and bugs, and your feet carried you up the gravel and towards your home, one in front of the other, unthinking, repetitive. You snuck in the basement door, the sun rising sleepily behind you. You got into bed, finally safe.
You lie there, unmoving, wrapped in new death. Wrapped in your grandfather’s clothes. And you think, you remember, you begin to understand.
He kissed you on the dock at three a.m., running his bony, calloused hands over your chest and down your ribs, plucking them one by one with his slim fingers, playing you like a guitar. He licked your neck, left blooming bruises across your collarbone. A loon cried out in the distance. You opened your eyes and you were far away, underneath his body but not within the grasp of his affection.
This went on for nearly twenty minutes. Twenty minutes of the boy trying to play your little ribs in sweet harmony, twenty minutes of you imagining he was the blonde girl from your English class. Twenty minutes of disconnect, of mismatching chords of affection. Twenty minutes of the loon crying out, dissonance heavy in the air.
Later, in your bed, you cry into your grandfather’s shirts. You pull the blanket up close, and you begin to understand. You begin to accept. You run your fingers softly over the pillow, imagining a face. Imagining champagne hair spilling across it. You kiss the face, kiss the soft, curved lips and rest your fingers on its cheek. You kiss the pillow and the pillow is not the boy and you try to understand. The pillow is not the girl, either, but it is at least soft.
He takes you to the dock at three a.m. again, and you let him pluck your ribs and caress your hips and lick his way across your collarbone once more. He feels skeletal against you—thin and long and scratchy on your chest. Odd angles poking into you. Wrong. You go home and cry, again. You fall asleep, cheek to cheek with the pillow, dreaming of blue eyes and champagne hair and soft, pink lips.
After this, you do not visit the dock again. Nobody touches you for two years, nobody kisses your lips or plays your guitar string ribs in melodious affection. You spend your nights cocooned in your grandfather’s shirts, in your blanket of death, and you let the girl on the dock grow brown and wither away inside of it.
When you finally emerge—rounder, more colorful, but still with ribs like strings waiting to be plucked—you visit the dock once more. You sit on it at dawn, after graduation, and you watch the sunrise, alone. Nobody has touched you for two years.
You have been wrapped away, growing, learning, changing into what you were always meant to be. You have been kissing the pillow when your body grows limp with loneliness, you have been caressing the smooth cheek of the blonde girl in your dreams.
You have been changing.
You have changed.