Not Now, Later
"Sweet tea, sweet tea,
"Would you like some sweet tea?"
Unshifting from her seat, she leaned forward and grabbed a tall glass from the tray.
It's a hot summer day and the floor creaked beneath them as her mother walked away. She stared into the cup and the ice slid from the middle and into the sides, clicking as she raised the rim to her lips, and took a sip.
Sweet, sweet, tea. It runs down smoothly.
The sun felt thick and orange that evening. Nearing sunset, it was making its way towards the trees, thick, full and green. She closed her eyes and listened to the hum of the flies, the bees had already gone to sleep.
"Oh, the moon might be full tonight, I think." Her friend stood near her handsomely. His hair thickly tied into curls, tucked beneath a wilting green cap.
"No, it's heading towards a new moon. It was full last night." He nodded but still looked out away from them.
"Do you want some tea?" She shifted the glass towards him but he shook his head to decline.
"I've made some moonshine I wanna stick to." He reached for his backpack behind him and pulled out a mason jar filled with liquid clear as water. "I think it's flavored like lime, or something, you want some?" She nodded and held out her glass towards him.
"Pour some in here," she said, and he did, heavily.
"You got any extra smokes?" he asked.
"Just one minute." She reached into a pocket in her blouse, pulled out a pouch of tobacco and rolled him a cigarette.
"Thank you much." And he lit it as the sun set.
"You want to take a walk someplace?" he asked.
"Yeah, you got a sweater or something I can wear?" He nodded and handed her a clean button up, brown and big, soft like him. "Thanks."
They started walking down the road and she reached for his hand with hers. "This okay?" she asked.
"Mm-hmm." he responded, as he inhaled from the cigarette with his lips mostly closed. They walked slowly, shifting their vision from the clear-aired sky, to their feet on the road, to the cars that passed by, gently sharing cigarettes.
"You think you'll ever try to get out of this place?" he asked.
"Some day, I hope to," she said, kicking little rocks with the tops of her shoes.
"Yeah, I might get some work up north, my cousin says there’s good logging out there.”
"So I've heard."
They let the silence surround them. She noticed a beetle crawling out of the dirt so she pushed her heel over it and crushed it. Feeling satisfied with her weight, causing its shell to crack.
"You know you really shouldn't do that," he said.
She nodded, and inhaled through her nose sharply, filling up with the smell of blood mixed with dirt and the dry earth. Fireflies began to scatter with the night and she huddled nearer to him, so he wrapped an arm around her.
"Where do you think you'll go?" he asked.
"I'm not so sure, thinkin' I ought get some sort of car first."
The road they were walking on reached some sort of end so they walked up a hill, looking for some place to sit instead.
"It ain't that far, you wanna head up?"
"Sure," she said.
He ran up ahead of her and she took on with her own pace behind. She could hear the jars of moonshine clicking and clanking in his bag and he threw his body down to sit beneath a tree, almost softly. Closer to the top, she near-skipped up towards him and he pulled out the same jar with another lit cigarette.
"This look good to you?" he asked.
She smiled and said, "Sure." He offered her the jar.
"You want some more?" She took a sip and looked at the nearing new moon.
"I ain't so sorry he's gone," she said. He sat still and nodded his head.
“You glad your dad's dead?" She rested up against him.
"You know I got you," he said.
"You sorry this is almost the end?"
"Not so much," he said. "There'll be a time again."
"Yeah," she said, and wrapped her arm around him.
"Can you unbutton your shirt?" he asked. He meant the brown one, the one that was his.
"Sure." She let it open but left it on and felt more at ease with the night touching her skin. He rested his face against her armpit.
"I'll miss the smell of this," he said.
"Of what, armpit?
"What's it like?"
"But it's also sweet, sweet n' skin. The way your hair feels too. You sure do have a lot of hair for such a tiny body."
"It's pretty coarse."
"I love it though."
They sipped on moonshine and lulled with the pace of the night. Air still warm, bodies still covered, nose next to armpit.
"I don't know when the next time will be to feel so safe again."
"Yeah," she agreed. "I've just been starting to figure out what that means."
"Would it be alright if you kissed me?" she asked.
"Definitely." And they kissed, long and sweet, they kissed as if they were only just kids.
"Will you think of me while you're trying to escape, goin' on your journeys?"
"I hope to. Will you?"
"I hope to too."
"Should we stay out here tonight?"
"Seems 'bout right."
The lull of the night tucked them into sleep and they breathed beneath the tall tree. In often times their dreams brought some sort of recovery, dreams that felt like singing:
Remember me, Remember me, sweet pea, soft n' sweet,
remember me, while we're still recovering.
Maya Corbett is a newly twenty, sweet and suave queer currently residing in the PNW. A second year student at The Evergreen State College, she likes to chain smoke, drink cheaply, and play guitar loudly. She has contributed to Potluck before.