Candles on the Shore

There’s moonlight coming off the water, and my thumb hurts from where it got burnt from the lighter that I used to light the candles that we put along the shore, and right now we’re stringing together sentences in nonsense German that we think sounds funny, talking about childhood days as if they’re decades removed, and they are, but not as far removed as we’d like to pretend, because we’re not that old just yet, even with the creaking in our joints, and we’re taking classes, major after major, degree after degree, not sure where it’s going to wind up, but we’re going there together, down the line where soil and water meet, leaving these candles we got at the dollar store, the ones with the wicks that go bad after only a couple lights, but we light them anyway, thinking it can make somebody’s day, or rather night, if they come down and see it the way we see it just now, in this moment with the lights like stars right down there in front of us, and we talk all speculative, like dreaming about possibilities of massive cosmic beings lighting universes into being, talk about all the ways the world has changed, on that border between analog and digital, remembering bicycles strung across the lawn, and that’s the way you’d tell where all your friends were, then beepers with numbers in place of letters, 80085 because at that age that joke was funny every single time you told it, and we ran down to the basketball hoops that didn’t have nets and set up trampolines we stole from neighbors’ backyards and almost got caught that one time, but we just barely made it out, ditching the things and running out into the woods, following the trail we heard was made by satanists who made their offerings in the light of the moon, the moonlight coming up now, not down but off the water, and our vapor is traveling out into the night, and we’re listening to Mac DeMarco off the tinny speakers of your phone, letting Spotify algorithms take over and dictate what it is we’re going to listen to for the rest of the night, and before we got here we went down to Target and played the demo games they had on display, reclined on their comfy chairs and acted like we were testing them out whenever a store employee came by, like we were debating a purchase, as if they’d kick us out anyway, as if they’d give a shit what we were doing, and we pulled out Nerf swords and did battle in the middle of the aisle, fluorescent light above preventing any shadows from existing anywhere at all, and we started to see all the things we’d seen when we were younger and could still imagine that there was a world beyond all of this, a world where when we grew up we could eat candy whenever we wanted and have ice cream for breakfast and play video games all day, as if that was something to look forward to, times when we’d burn out VHS tapes at friends’ houses, mess with the tracking to get it looking okay, but it never really came in clean again, but that didn’t really matter because we knew those movies by heart anyway, would call out the lines at all the appropriate moments, sing along to the songs, and now we have to remind each other to drink water and get to bed at a normal time and eat greens every once in a while, maybe buy some fruit the next time you go to the store, and we leave messages unread and reply when we’re emotionally able, stretching sentences into moments that we know will never come again, and we’re scrolling through feeds and sharing and wandering down streets so we can be alone together, and it’s a hollow beauty, and there’s moonlight coming off of everything everywhere, out in the woods, or down by the water, or walking through downtown late at night, because we feel like if we can be out on the street at 2 in the morning it’s almost like we’ll never grow old, and we’re trying not to sound like back-in-my-day grandpas, but that’s what it’s coming to, speaking to the new generation, warning them about the ones that came before us, shielding them so they can get shit done, exchanging our scant wisdom for their vocab, and we try not to get too embarrassed when they laugh at our mispronunciation, try to ignore the creeping thought that we’re becoming the lame old people even though we’re not even 30 yet, and now we’re kissing down by the water, one after another, taking turns because that seems like the right thing to do at this particular moment, and we’ve got whiskey in our bellies, and our vapor is still floating out into the atmosphere, and we like to think that it’ll collide with the clouds way up there even though we know it won’t, and none of us know what we’re going to do tomorrow, I mean we have jobs, some of us go to school, we do what we have to, but we don’t know what we’ll do, you know, and you put your fingers to your lips after we kiss as if to touch is to solidify, and I watch the way your cheeks warm up even in the cool night, shining bright under the moon, and there’s got to be meaning in some of this even if it’s so hard to find meaning in all the rest, and this hollow beauty isn’t so hollow anymore, and we don’t know what all this is yet, but we’re just going to go with it for now.



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