“After” By Ryan Belcher

the sheets were thrown by a twister of hands and feet, and rivers of sweat paved down the skin of our spines, and lightning ran from bed post to bed post, and thunder and whispers of creaks and unsaid I love you’s filled the empty space between, I kissed you like a stranger and dragged myself to the toilet, leaving the bathroom door open, and exhausting a stream of urine and satisfaction echoing through the hall; and after, when I returned to the room, the storm-struck room, I watched as you turned to me and said we’re broken, aren’t we, and then turned away from my face, from my words, from my false reassurance, from months of falling apart and not being picked back up together; and when you poised an unlit cigarette on your lips, the saliva on your tongue seeping deep into the rolled tobacco, I exhaled out one long sigh, looked up at the ceiling fan spinning, spinning, spinning, and left you there as you searched for a lighter or anything that might spark a flame; and after, when the beetles and ants rose from the wet dirt and started to crawl over the footprints I left in the ground, I thought about looking back at your window, and wondering about what we had before and what had happened to it, and if the storm would come back or if it was over, and if you would be standing there with your window open, letting the smoke from your cigarette cut through the humid air, allowing the sun to silhouette your naked body under the T-shirt I forgot to take with me, and watching the rain evaporate from the concrete.

Ryan is a Korean-American, a military brat, and a recent graduate from the University of North Texas. He enjoys spending time with his friends and working on his truck.

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