by Claire Connolly
We step out of the sea and straight into our socks; fuck the sand, it’s cold. Turn on the engine, start the heat. Our fingers are uncooperative, slow, arrested with the rhythm of the cool dawn tide that just held us. We shiver, the straps of our swimsuits snap as we fling them off our shoulders and peel them from the grip of our prickling skin. The moments quiver. I don’t even care if they see my tits anymore, Stephanie says, if you like what you see, you’re welcome, and if you don’t, the fuck you lookin’ for? In these exact moments, I am the happiest I have ever been.
That night, there’s a hall light on for a lover coming to bed later, after Halo2. They are not my lover, and my loneliness arrives an hour or two early. I am not expecting it, have not set the table, do not even own the home. I become ill with it. I have twenty-two unread messages, but have not been properly held since the December before. The woman who wrapped herself around me then wants to meet up, to clarify, as friends, and I somehow expect that longing for her from five feet away will cure the longing for her I feel across a continent. I agree, Aoife, as friends.
I do not say that home is but a collection of missing her and here. I do not say that I swallow salt when we talk. That I know I was her queer dawn dip and her new girlfriend has been idling in the car park at the perfect temperature. I watch my Instagram stories again, knowing she has not. Everything is perfect without her, so does everything hurt.