Dog Days

Mostly, I wait.

My new apartment has air conditioning, but I keep it turned off and open all the windows to the early summer heat. I like to lie upside-down on my bed in black cotton panties and a wife beater, my head dangling over the bottom edge, feeling the heat sit on me. I wait until my thighs are sweaty enough that I can feel them cling to one another when I move. I run my fingertips over the crescent moon of exposed skin above my low-riders. I swish my hair across the floor. I do not think about her. Oh no. I do not think about anything at all.

I've never been big on waiting. When I want something, I want it five minutes ago. So hurry the fuck up. The mayor is trying to teach me patience. He wants me ready for the big day; he wants me to enjoy my youth, to relax, to stay out of trouble. And to brush my teeth. And to respect my elders. And to wash my hands before eating. And to and to and to and to. Sometimes I wish he just wanted to fuck me like any other self-respecting father figure.

(No I don't.)

Waiting makes me crazy. Last night I went patrolling, just to get out. I killed three vampires; at least one of them was on our side. Just needed to kill something, to grip and bruise and hit. Just needed to move. I wanted to go dancing, after, but the boss man said a couple days ago that it wasn't safe for me to go to the Bronze. That's B's place. Don't want to make any waves so close to the Ascension, he said. After, he said, after you can go there every night, as long as you're home by 10.

I used to think that I was waiting for her. One day she'd come around. One night she'd smile at me, sweaty and dirty from the fight, and she'd know how empty her hands were and how to fill them. One night I'd have her right there, up against a gravestone; she'd have bruises on her back, and on her thighs, and every time she brushed one she would draw her breath in a little too quickly. Or better: we'd climb in through her window, hushed and intent, and I'd strip her naked and lay her out on her pretty white bed. When she came she'd forget about her mom down the hall and I'd smother her cries with my mouth and she would bite me, hard, with needing me so much.

She was the only thing I ever waited patiently for; I never said a word. Never whispered in her ear as I gave her a hand up after a fight. Never slipped a hand around her waist as we danced, even when she came close enough to eat. She would see it in her own time, I told myself. But it wasn't patience really; it was fear. I wanted her too much. And she was the only thing I wanted that I couldn't just take.

During the day the heat dulls me. I can't even be bothered to play video games or watch TV. I play with my punching bag occasionally, until I rip the chain out of the ceiling. Then I just sit: hold ice cubes against my neck until they burn, don't think.

But night is different. Nighttime I think of how B pointed to the brightest star in the sky, and said, The ancient Romans thought that star was so bright that it gave off its own heat. To us, I mean - that we felt heat from it. Then she blushed. She didn't tell me where the astronomy knowledge came from, but the look in her eyes said it for her. She is transparent, like colored glass. Nighttime my body is light as air and demanding. The sweat on my skin dries, makes me itch. Nighttime I think of how she swayed slightly to an acoustic guitar at the Bronze, and how she looked the other way when she caught me watching her. Nighttime I think of how she runs, how she kills, how her eyes looked when I kissed her skin. You're not ready yet, I said. And now we're both waiting.

The night before their prom I go by her house. I don't know why I know these things are happening, since I am not invited, but it's a fucking tiny town and word gets around. I think maybe I'll get a glimpse of her in her prom dress, standing in front of the mirror twirling. Instead, she is sitting on the ledge outside, but she doesn't look down and I'm not worried about being seen. She is folded up and wide eyed, staring off into space. I want her to notice me; I want us to fight. I want to go back far enough that I could be sitting there next to her. I waited too long before; I would be smarter now. I would unzip her sweatshirt and lick the sweat off her neck, and she would forget about his old stories. No matter how bright a star is you can't feel its heat on earth. But I am all heat.

I lie on my stomach and stare at the floor. I sharpen knives. I do pull-ups, push-ups: a hundred, three hundred. Anything to make my muscles ache. I take cold showers. I go into the office, just to see if there is anything new. I eat ice cream by the pint, and throw my sharpened knives at the wall, thunk thunk thunk into the plaster. I try and fail to get myself off. I dance in my underwear. I break things. I don't think about her. Oh no. I don't think about anything at all.