Or, I guess I should say you do. I’ve never been able to even though you keep trying to teach me. My rocks just sink to the bottom like wiseguys that have overstayed their welcome.
The Pennsylvania water is brown and frigid. The cloudy layer of mud between the surface and the bottom obscures an unimaginable number of things. Precious things, slimy things, living things dead things. Or maybe none of it.
One of your rocks skips four times and makes it to the opposing bank. A smile illuminates your face as you turn to me for validation. I grin in response and we embrace.
The sun is starting to set.
We trek back to the car through the lightly wooded park over the wide gravel trails. We don’t see anybody on our way there.
As I start the car I put on some pretentious, abrasive Japanese jazz in the car to cull the conversation, making sure only the important bits are spoken. I can’t do small talk tonight. Or jokes. I pull the car out of the state park and head towards your home.
There’s a spider crawling around in my chest. A big, hairy, terrifying spider. It lives in my lungs and tickles the inside of my ribcage as I breathe. Should I lay on my stomach, I feel it squirm under my weight.
Usually the spider sleeps. Tonight, he is awake. And he wants me to know it. He pulsates. I feel his throbbing presence in the cavity where my sternum should be. He’s awake, and he’s aware, and he’s alive.
You seem scared as I drive. I’m driving faster than usual, but still only 5 miles per hour over the limit. You can sense something wrong with me. Our symbiosis is kicking in. Or, perhaps, symneurosis?
That’s not a real word. Brains are a part of our biology. Same as every human.
Fifteen minutes have passed. We’re halfway to your house without a single word exchanged between us.
I see you look at the volume knob at the bottom left corner of the car radio through my peripheral vision. But I pretend not to notice it and let the hegemony continue.
Fifteen more minutes of silence pass. It’s fully dark outside now. I’m parked at the top of your driveway, with the car turned off. But not all the way off. I did that thing with the keys where you half-turn them and the engine shuts down but the air and lights and radio stay on.
We sit in pseudo-silence. We stare off into the pseudo-distance.
I tell you I have to get home soon since I didn’t bring my meds and I need to take them soon. You wordlessly open the door, as if waiting for your cue.
I open my door, affix my beanie and scarf on to my head and neck respectively, and walk around the car to your side. You’re getting your things together; your heavy backpack, your hard red violin case, your dense Dostoevsky book that I’ll never be able to read in full.
Without speaking, I extend my arms to convey that I’m willing to carry your stuff up to your house for you. But, no, you pantomime. You reach out your hand with your palm facing towards me. I put my hands in my jacket pockets.
We meander up the gravel driveway towards your house. The crickets are loud tonight.
You tell me you had a good day. I say I did too. And I’m sorry for not helping you carry your stuff.
You tell me don’t worry about it. And we hug again. You walk up the stairs onto your porch before waving goodbye to me from up above. I wave back, then you open the door and disappear inside.
Once you’re out of view, behind the door, I walk back to my car without a second glance.