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Vocal in the Wind

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our songs, our music, our expressive flight, our creative marronage — Saidiya Hartman

i. Hit the road

Down at the entrance to the apartment complex, he's waiting to get picked up. Leaning against the big rock with the metal sign, he's got his knapsack in his lap and his knees drawn up, arms looped around them. He's folded in on himself like origami, like a note passed hand over hand over the whole school day. It's early enough that the sky is still no color, just pearly and blank, but it's already hot. He leaves his fleece on anyway. It is graffiti-bright and soft against his cheek when he lays his head down on his arm. The grass is wet under his ass.

The Jeep is new, matte black like a gun. He hesitates for a second when it pulls up.

The passenger door's pushed open. 'The fuck you do to your hair?'

His hand flies up, palm curved, but then it just hovers over the back of his head. His hair is cropped and bleached brassy these days. The dye's growing out. 'Bad?'

'No, not bad. Different, though.' Last time they visited, he wore short twists tipped with clicking beads. Kissing him, let alone jerking him off, it was like an old lady was doing the rosary right behind them. Distracting, maybe a little dispiriting. 'C'mon, get in, Blondie.'

They regard each other as birds creak and sprinklers whirl. The longer they look, the realer they grow, until they're themselves again. Wide eyes, dry mouths, a good 97% of everything never said but still understood.

'Getting in.' Blondie tosses his bag into the back.

'So do it, man.'

At the wheel, Driver's grinning big, but leans a little ways back, out of reach, untouchable, until they hit the highway. Once they're in traffic, speeding along, they're anonymous again. Anonymous means they're not being watched. They're safer, again. They hoot and yell, kick and punch at the air. Escape will never not exhilarate. Blondie's hand can thwack down on Driver's thigh, then stay there, pinching at the inner seam, drifting higher, then slipping lower under the hem of his shorts. Driver reaches over, steers with his knees so he can touch Blondie's softly whorled hair and tug at it, laughing like it's a great fucking joke.

'Fuck off,' Blondie mutters and ducks, but not so far he can't still be touched. Driver's palm is sweaty on the nape of his neck. His short fingernails score their way across the skin.

'Never.' Driver grabs Blondie's neck and gives him a good shake. 'That's a promise.'

They used to make a lot of promises. They don't any more. But back in the day, they'd steal up to the roof of the gym, lie down on the gravel up there, pass a joint and address the clouds with whole entire soliloquies concerning disappointments, dreams, deferrals and regrets. They'd mouth promises to the sky, against the other's lips, and it didn't matter how audible any of it was. It still happened, it still meant something.

Blondie tugs his cap on and puts his feet up on the dash. They're both still quivering, damn near vibrating out of their skins with nerves and anticipation.

ii. In the woods

You saw this part. He twisted into him, then the other one unfurled around him.

TL;DR - Embryonic orgiastic rearrangement.

iii. Out of the water

Feathery algae filigrees across Driver's belly. It dips and darkens, then stands out, bright in the stormlight, when Blondie fucks into him. There's a dark leg wrapped around Blondie's slightly-paler waist, more algae in their hair, lightning spurting across the sky. They're beached again, but the water still runs across them in silver waves, through them in bloody drumbeats.

Tadpoles twirl in the water, slip-and-slide down their backs. The moss blankets every surface now, green and yearning, sending up spores to sizzle in the lightning.

Blondie's got that expression on his face, where he bites his lip and wants with his whole self and it radiates out of him. Scoops Driver up, catches him close and pulls closer, so they're kissing, mouths mashed together, Driver's dick jumping between them, bouncing and skating. He's open and wide, arching back now, taking it deep as he laughs up at the sky pulling apart.

Every broken thing—twig, branch, stem and stalk—sings out the scent of its breaking. The fragrance of green sap and torn tissue blossoms around them; they breathe it in, take it deep, exhale it (stronger) in their groans. It swells in their sweat, runs in rapids across their eyes.

Pores and fronds alike open. Trees throw out their arms, roots reach farther yet. Hyphae tickle and tease their pores. Blondie rides out wave after wave, pushing deeper, scraping open his knees on the moss and rocks, shouting over the storm. His mouth yawns cherry-red and slick; Driver would like to fold and twist himself and fuck those lips even as he's getting railed past the point of no return.

He left scraps of the net of his nerves in Blondie; he feels some of what Blondie must feel, and it's all running together, faster, as they sink into the swallowing green and shine the brighter for it.

iv. Wake up

They sleep in a pile next to the Jeep and wake up cold, achey, shivering.

The trees have receded and now stand safely above them. The leaves are black in the dawn light, more like clumps of mold than foliage. They kiss with sticky, sour mouths as they clutch at each other.

Blondie finds some stupid-pretty girl with a guitar pop on the stereo while Driver digs out protein bars that taste like bugs and cheap cocoa.

'Can't go back,' Driver says. His arm is slung around Blondie's shoulders and he's talking into the mess of Blondie's hair. His mouth is hot, his grip tight. 'Can't make me.'

Driver's doing a tech-sales training boot camp and has to be back by midday. Blondie pulled two double-shifts at the Waffle House dishwasher in order to get last night and today off.

'Never,' Blondie swears. His voice cracks.