We both agree now that Coney Island was where it started. The electric current of the Cyclone's rails leapt from the wheels to the handles that we both clutched so tightly as we made our ascent. Then the shocking whoosh of down, down, down—and I determined then that I would not hold on, that I would take the bumps and the jerks and the terrifying deltas and eddies of this ride as they came to me, with my hands in the air. I let myself roll into him on the curves but I wasn't flirting, not yet. My hair fell down and streamed out behind me; I thought of choking, Isadora Duncan-style, but still my hands stayed in the air.
After that we drank watered-down rum and ate hotdogs and waded in water littered with beercans and plastic bags. He sat beside me at the freakshow and when the tattooed lady chewed up her cockroaches I could feel his thigh against my thigh and I liked it.
We had brunch a week or two later and whenever I thought about him in that time I thought about how good he was and how sweet, how there was a man that would never be mean to anybody on purpose. After the eggs and coffee we hung out near the dog park and talked about all that stuff that people talk about on first dates. He was telling me about his family when I looked at his crazy hair and his plaid shirt and the dimple in his chin and thought, "This could work."
We didn't go out again after that. That was okay with me. I knew that a good man like that must have his reasons, and it was never awkward when we ran into each other. I still thought about him though, especially when he was a little drunk and I was a little drunk and it seemed like something might happen if I wanted to make it happen.
Then he went on tour and I made up my mind. We were just friends, and that was fine. He was a good friend to have, a nice person who was nice to everybody and could have a conversation with anyone in the whole world.
My life got kind of complicated while he was away. I spent a lot of time indoors. The week before he came back from tour I put a cigarette out on my arm to see what it would feel like. I knew that it was stupid to put a cigarette out on my arm, but I did it anyway and I went outside to do it. The pain was sharp at first but then it stopped being sharp or feeling like anything at all, really, and I let the cigarette burn out, there, in my arm, and then I twisted it a little for good measure, and then I felt better.
Superwolf had a concert on April 21st, a Thursday night. I'd invited him to come along. When I saw him something was immediately different, proprietary. The crowd was as silent as midnight in a mineshaft and the band sang about love and sex and death and it was gorgeous. We'd had whiskey, and I caught myself thinking about him, feeling him near me like at the freakshow all those months ago. If I leaned against him, I knew that he would put his arms around me. But I didn't want to lean against him. Leaning against him felt like cheating, dissipating the strength that it had taken the cigarette to find.
He would have to make that decision without my help. I stood up straight. I basked in the stagelights and watched the ink-stained boys play their instruments. My eyes were open when I felt his arms circle my waist, binding me to him swift and sure like the cables of a bridge arching high above the narrows, seen best from a roller coaster peaked and hovering before its inevitable descent.