He was ill, fever most the day. Levi’s mother slipped him the Benadryl in his cocoa. How in the hell could she have known? In truth, he was conflicted, hung-over, sunburned from skinny dipping and lovesickness. She hadn’t been gone that long.
Levi had no equal in keeping secrets. Besides, what he was hiding was so damned personal, much too emotional for anyone else to feel. Besides Mia was all his, their love nobody’s business.
They had shared a last kiss, it was fire. They seared it, on a bet with their lives, swore that after her move to the Bay Area they’d never lose touch.
You fall into it, don’t you? You trip over it, ill-prepared. First love, is always out there, a sticky pheromone snare. No worries, if caught off guard, time and biology have prepared you well.
It’s an ache in your gut, a cramp in your loin, a lump in your throat. Holding viscid baking dough hands you can’t get undone. First love demands long walks and first wet kisses you’ll chase the rest of your life like a smoky heroin dragon.
Mia and her mother moved to Concord, California, a new job of something. The stink of her was less about the hardness in his pants, and more about the emptiness in his gut.
Summer’s honey winds portend late autumn’s swarms.
To keep love alive, until… they’d agreed on a pact. Selfish thief’s they’d hoard the moon for themselves. View it together late at exactly midnight. Only then could they share their dreams of someday, till’s.
Nearly delirious with fever, 2:15 A.M. woke as he leaped out from under his sweaty sheets. It was just a few steps and a stretch to reach the teal curtains to look out. In the tired eyes of the vintage incandescent, he was a mad man.
Once in front of the window, Levi ripped it open, then out of place floral curtains his mother had stitched. After that, it was the shades turn, asshole over tea kettle, out of control, as it uncoiled. Thwack, thwack, thwack was the noise it clacked at the top of wooden window casing.
He glared at the crescent moon, high carbon steel, as it barbed the black gills of the horizon. Once unhooked, he watched as it sunk over the mountain. He stared at the beautiful horror as the rocky jowls bled rouge into the current, down the steep backside of the ridge, clear into tomorrow. Levi thought himself fortunate. A late glimpse would have to suffice in sustaining a portion of a promise, a metric of love.
The first week of letters was all that he read, no more, no less. Because that’s all there were, she didn’t care. By late fall, white cumuli morphed into grey hives. Their humming lulled Levi into an early sleep. Shades remained tight. Dreams hid storyboards.
When school began in September Levi slowly grew distracted. After all, sports, and homework demanded his full attention. And there were bonfire’s to attend, Coors beer to guzzle, and pretty girls to meet, crazy sex in the back seat of his Camaro.
As always, in all things science, and love, innocence breeds loss.
At the five-year class reunion, he was hoping. Truth is, he was new to atheism, and still, he prayed that she’d show.
Jeremy Gossipmonger knuckled the frosted driver’s side window, before Levi could depart the graveled parking lot for the warmth of his Holiday Inn king-sized bed, before Levi couldn’t find his badly needed sleep in time for the long drive home to Portland. After all, a new job and cubicle were waiting.
“Levi, what did you think when you first heard Mia and her mother were killed in that car accident just a week after they’d moved?”
Late at night, traveling the 5, the tin sign shouted him awake, 25 empty miles till city lights.
Levi struggled to recall if he’d ever seen the sky this black.
Dan A. Cardoza’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have met international acceptance. Most recently his work has been featured in Cabinet of Heed, Cleaver, Entropy, Gravel, Montana Mouthful, New Flash Fiction Review and Spelk. Twitter Handle: @Cardozabig