BY ANDREW YUAN
I am boarding the train for my one-way ticket from upstate to tomorrow. The seats are velvet and the carriage is bright and cold, and you are near the end of the compartment, alone with a coffee and a cat curled on your lap. You are looking out the window. I say, is this seat taken? You say, I know where you are going and I know where you have been. I take the seat. I drink your coffee. You are looking out the window but I am looking at the time. I fish the map from my pocket, all crumpled, smooth it out, and grab your hand. I open my mouth
and the twinkle in my eye says New York. The maw of the swallowing city and us caught between its gums, tumbling through winding shoelace-like streets, laughing to the screams of the taxis when I kiss you and you taste like industrial smoke and shiny new dreams. It’s morning and I hand you a breakfast bagel with avocado wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper. It’s morning and the world is kneeling at our feet, we are commanding a world of glass titans and life is good because you found a great discount for bulk ramen
and you hum. You say quiet is nice, and the mantle of the Earth rocks and splits wide open. We are in West Virginia lying on rain-dotted grass next to wildflowers dancing like drunkards on a hot breeze. I point out that some of the clouds look vaguely phallic and you throw ice cubes at me. This is this our Eden, I say, and a house sprouts behind us, a blue-shingled monstrosity with a sun-bleached porch and three big stories. The rising haze clouds the contour of your face under a fresh low light and it smells like moist oranges, you say it’s Hollywood so
we picnic. We snack on our fruits. This time you kiss me and you taste like mango juice.
and I promised I would marry you long ago, didn’t I? But first I will bring you to the place I call home in a crappy little car singing 2010’s pop songs all the way down the coast of California, and you will tie a tangled lock of hair around my wrist under an unyielding willow. Somewhere down on the west coast, we lost our way on unsurpassable trails. At night when the sky is a black outstretched palm, I will point at the ocean and say I love it because it has no end, because of its warm shallows and soundless depths. I will ask if that sounds familiar. And then I will cradle your hand because angel, you promised you would hold me if I fell asleep at the bottom of the sea.
And the cat somehow found its way onto the table. It bats its tail, the mug goes tumbling, and your coffee seeps into the map like a Rorschach blot. I laugh—an involuntary thing. You crack a smile and oh, there my heart goes again rattling away, this stupid clockwork contraption running on hot steam and the love you will have given me. Always the love you will have given me. I say maybe the cat is a metaphor. You say I’m your insufferable little writer. Clouds above the Hudson are presents pregnant with past and future. The train chugs on and you let me fall asleep on your shoulder.