Riverbank––I feel the fleshy insects crawling over my skin. Cold skin. Dead skin. I can hear the river too; my tragic, restless resting place. The light is surreal. The morning is saying I AM HERE. I HAVE NOT COME YET, BUT I AM HERE.
I can smell myself too. I have not begun to rot yet.
Riverbank––the first of the crows settles itself on my calf. I am not sure whether it is the left or the right, but I am certain it is my calf. I cannot see it. I do not know how I know it is a crow. It runs its beak over my shin. Left. Right. Left. It is saying YOU ARE NOT READY. I WILL COME WITH THE OTHERS WHEN YOU ARE READY. Right. Left.
This will go on all day. I know this routine. It is always Tuesday.
I think the second Tuesday was the worst. For me, it was realization. When there is no hope, there is nothing worse than knowing. Somehow, I was aware that eternity would be this Tuesday. Forever. I wake freshly dead. The dew settles. The crows come. Marcus does not call.
Riverbank––the crow flies away. My phone is in the pocket of my hoodie. I know because I put it there. If it was vibrating, I would feel it. It is not vibrating.
That night––last night––I was out with Marcus. We had a bottle of wine. Sauvignon Blanc. I suggested we drive around town. Pass the bottle between each other. Get drunk while driving at 1 a.m. He said: THAT’S DANGEROUS, JUDE. He said: IT’S UNATTRACTIVE TO BE THAT FUCKING STUPID. He said: IT’S NOT CUTE. He laughed. He said: WE COULD DIE.
We took his truck down to the river. There was a blanket and paprika Pringles and a lot of kissing. He gave me a blowjob. We would have had sex, but the insects were harsh. We put our shirts back on. We kept on kissing. We kept drinking wine.
Riverbank––WE COULD DIE. We would have been together. We are all too young to die, but we die anyway. The stray dog comes to drink at the river. I call her the goddess of the river. She laps at the water and scratches at her mange with an injured leg. She has a subtle grace about her. I can see it because my head is tilted slightly to one side. I do not know what side. There are two kinds of mongrels. She is the better.
Riverbank––my mouth tastes wet. Metallic, too. I know it is blood. My cheekbone is shattered. If I were to guess, I would say they used a wrench or a crowbar. I did not see.
I told Marcus to go on without me. I would watch the stars for a little while. Never mind. I would be fine. I would walk home. Yes, I would be safe. No, there was nothing to worry about. RELAX. RELAX, MARCUS. Marcus promised to call me when he got home. He promised.
When they came––the three men, the three mongrels––they said they had seen me with that other boy. They said it was sick and disgusting. They had watched us kissing. They said FAGGOT and I said DON’T USE THAT WORD.
I remember knees colliding with my stomach. I remember fists and disappearance. I remember they wanted me to beg. I remember that I would not. I remember water.
Riverbank––I feel the weight of water in my lungs. They must have drowned me after. The Goddess trots to my body. She licks at my face. She whines. She nuzzles at my neck. She cries. She is the only one who cries for me today.
Somehow, I know why I am here. Lying trapped in the open air. We are all dying. We think until we die. The last thing you think of is what keeps you here. You can only move on if it sends you off.
Riverbank––my phone is not vibrating. Marcus never calls.
Riverbank––every day is Tuesday. I will stay here until dusk, and then restart. We think until we die. After you die, you keep thinking. Marcus will never set me free. I will think and think about it. I will never know why.
Riverbank––there are three crows now.
Logan February is Nigerian and a teenager. He likes words and typewriters and pizza.