On the bus I see a meth head next to a happy family on the beach, everyone smiling, both of them warnings. I have your cardigan on my lap, shapeless without you in it, and I know you didn’t leave it on purpose. On a beautiful day like today, you’re not thinking about an emergency, the sign says, but you should be—make a disaster plan. The meth ad doesn’t have much of a message, it’s more of a statement of doom and don’t, stay away and avoid. An old couple walking outside together, they look like survivors.
Pack a disaster kit, the sign says in bold, like be ready and then enjoy the sun, knowing that when the waves come it’s easier to run. Head for the hills, higher ground, listen to the news for instructions, what schools won’t be open. Remember when our lights went out? Hold me close, you said, and I lit some candles and listened—we were whole just like the circle beaming on the ceiling from the flashlight pointing up. Maybe we should have climbed through that hole to some different space.
You took the car and I can only guess where you’re going. I first thought that out of something beautiful, our initial romance, patterns could be made and symmetry would unfold like reverse origami. Instead, we tore ourselves with purpose so we could align our own pieces, we even ripped at each other, a violent sculpting, and I still remember the sounds—receding waves peeling off the sand.
I’m glad I convinced you to stay for coffee right before you left today for good. Could you have changed your mind beyond the time of a cup and waiting for it to cool? I wonder if its warmth has escaped you by now. When you were gone, I searched for where your lips had been for the final kiss you left without, and I rubbed the bottom and tasted the stain of the sugar that settled. I found your cardigan after looking for shreds of you in the apartment, knowing that you forgot to pack this.
When the sun dies and the sidewalks frost, you’ll need it to be wrapped, even if it’s a fabric’s embrace. Maybe when all is blue and you can see your breath, you’ll think of me while wearing it and smile if I’m not there with you, but if you happen to change your mind, then I’ve got us even more covered under that eternal moon.
Joseph Han is finishing his English degree at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, where he won the Ernest Hemingway Undergraduate Award for Fiction. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the Hawai’i Review, Metazen, and The Rusty Nail.