by STEVIE KILGORE - February 12, 2021
I saw you at Lowe’s. At least, I thought I saw you. She was the same age and she had the same eyes and the same freckles. She was sitting on one of the mower displays cross-legged and she looked at me and suddenly I wasn’t in Lowe’s anymore. I was in my yard with you.
You said you’re the place never quite searing hot, but always dusty; the driest state, somehow more waterlogged than California. I said I’m sad sometimes and that makes me cold. I want to live somewhere warmer.
I think I fit you well, actually. Party of two, glass of water for one. I’m a Hoosier girl and a kind one. Rule follower, unless absolutely necessary… I’m sensitive and I’m tenacious and I start riots sometimes. Maybe it’d be good for you to have someone like me.
Texas, I am so glad to know you. I am listening to the music you sent me. I am memorizing each word so that we can sing together in the car next time, turning up the speakers. My elation feels like a balloon in my stomach, slowly filling up with air from the AC.
Texas, I don’t deserve you, not at your best, clad in dirty cowboy boots and a toothy smile. I’m flattered that you trust me with the ethereal dogwoods and gentle magnolias that dot your town, and I love when your trees sway just a little bit in the breeze. I don’t deserve you at your best when the wind blows just right and I feel as if I’m floating. You’re here and I feel like I can do anything. I hope I never lose you.
Texas, something bad happened. I can’t sleep at night and it’s unfair. I miss my dad.
Texas, I get sad and that makes me cold. Perhaps I’ll go and live somewhere warmer.
Texas, I watched the sunset and it looked like the clouds were on fire. I want to know if you see the world like I do. I want to know what we have in common. Each time I look in the mirror my eyes turn gray. Do yours change color, too?
Texas, I’m feeling lonely and you are my closest friend. Can I come see you?
Texas, I’m worried about you. Are you okay?
I don’t remember what your face looks like anymore. I have to find pictures of you in my phone to remind myself. Rustling, dancing leaves and the light scent of pecan pie feel like a faint memory. Suddenly I’m angry.
Party of one, glass of water for none. I’m a Hoosier girl and a hot-tempered one, too. I’m breakable and I’m furious and I want to scream at you, scream that you broke my heart and spit on it and then left the pieces for the custodial staff to pick up and sweep away. Maybe it’d be good for me to have someone unlike you.
And, Texas, who am I to ask you for anything? Especially when I don’t deserve you, not at your worst, when the dirt is bone-dry and tumbleweeds rattle through your abandoned town, and the church doors creak and the floorboards sink under my feet when I step inside you because every tree that supported the floor is now dead and rotten. I’m so frightened that when I try to speak, my throat shuts tightly. My mouth stutters and you do not wait for me. Soon I hear nothing from you. I feel as if you faked your death and forgot to let me know. I don’t deserve you and I don’t need you and I’m red-hot like an explosive stove, a volatile stove, a stove that burns everything it touches without remorse; the counters and the cabinets near it are convulsing in pain, and as the stove heats up and the temperature rises and the fire alarm screams and the people it loves most begin to char, it stops and shudders and completely shuts off.
Texas, you’re gone. I realize I’m not cold anymore.