Think of our silhouettes lengthening across the bare stage, the creak of the wooden boards beneath our feet, the broken spotlights of gray glass, the dizziness as he twirled me erasing the curtains from my sight, his muscled legs folded in bunched trousers, the actors gone home.
If you remember what a twelve-year-old knows of romance, this will be the end of the story.
No one remembers more unless, long ago, something happened to make them remember.
Maybe he thought I was a girl.
With boys, it is different.
For most boys, dancing with Gilbert across an empty stage would have changed everything.
But for me, my life went on almost the same.
Only I began to braid blue and gold beads into my hair.
I started sunning myself in the backyard, rubbing apricot lotion across my shoulders, dashing yellowed perfume behind my ears, wearing iced mocha lip gloss.
I flung rocks through windows of beautiful houses at night, danced naked in front of long mirrors, strummed my guitar so hard I broke the silvered strings.
Over the years Gilbert became bald.
I didn’t understand how he could do that to me, but now I know it probably wasn’t his fault.
He remained cut out of my heart just the same.
But I kept an old photo of him on my dresser and tried to remember him the way he was when his hair was thick and brown.
I found other men, just as secretive and ordinary, just as wrong for me, but with lots of hair.
They would take me to deserted places.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The men danced with me when I said dance.
Most of them were confused when I told them what to do, but they took my hand just the same.