Letters To Dead Rockstars
We listen to Mama Cass we strut in states of undress we learn how to send unconventional mail. We scramble eggs we storytell with gusto we stand on folding chairs. We try to describe that one hook. That one look. When mixtapes were currency, remember? We break small promises we fry rice with pineapple we fight and I cry and instead of talking you draw and I write a story about a brooding sailor. We sing quietly in opposite directions until we fall asleep and then wake up again to our still-saturated hearts. We listen to Bruno Mars you dance in that rare way from your hips hard and without thinking. I grin so it hurts. At the birthday party we wrestle how no one expects and we both wind up with ripped sleeves. We listen to Huggy Bear and I feel confused by the new sounds but also like I’m in hot rolling love for weeks on end. I start ripping all of my sleeves on purpose so as not to forget the feeling.
We crank it loud enough to hear in every room we tear magazine covers we feel the corners of us come alive. I wear Blanche Devereaux and Miss Piggy and Claudia Kishi and Cher, all dramatic spill and emphasis. The shoulder pads the plastic teardrops the fat red bangles the orange stilt shoes I can’t walk in. I wear everything I own all at once and trot into some weekday afternoon dripping studs and teetering excess. Kitchen and shower and hairbrush for crooning and costume bin for options and I am singing at the top of my lungs. I have a shoebox full of brokenhearted letters to dead rockstars. My kind of handsome. I practice sneer and snarl, curl and tug, lean and swagger, tightlip takecharge secrets so smooth they nearly jangle, the classic be-you-or-fuck-you quandary I never quite have a satisfactory answer to. I still practice sex to mixtapes. That one song I listen to twelve, twenty, fifty times until it’s skin-familiar. Sweat and stage and temple and church and fall backwards into everybody’s eager arms. I am always trying to get closer to something. Can I sing it to you, the song? Can you close your eyes and imagine my prowess? I can lean against a wall with something coy in my mouth. I can belt it out for you like my organs ache too much to keep anything in. I can swell all the way up to the rafters. I’ll give you my autograph. I can sweat from the throat just enough to loosen your jaw and surprise you. I can break your heart just by administering eye drops with my head flung back like Jordan Catalano or scowling and smiling all at once like that one photo of Ricky Nelson from 1962.
The night before I leave you we dance to Otis Redding on the record player and I consider telling you that I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between song lyrics and real life. We bike over a bridge in a crowd we lose each other we find each other again. I feel lonely but am wearing cute underwear just in case. We listen to Queen and to Prince and you preen and I reconsider everything I think I know by heart. I am so deeply susceptible to a good chorus. The night before you leave me you tell me you feel flat and sad here and I already know I will send you chocolates to try to make this better. I send the chocolates but no. The truth is I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between love and dead rockstars.
The night we leave together we eat piles of noodles in the dark car we wear ready-go outfits we accept Bruce Springsteen’s promises and challenges with somber streetlit eyes. We never fact-check our intuition, just look up directions to somewhere especially pink and unfamiliar and we drive. We sunset we moonrise in seatbelts the world whirs past and we dream the guitars onto one another’s chests. Fuck. I have never known how to tell you. X-Ray Spex and I say turn it louder. Patti Smith and I say turn it louder. Sam Cooke and I say turn it louder. Aretha Franklin and I say turn it louder. Roy Orbison and I say turn it louder. We sing together the whole way. It’s as loud as it gets. Our voices don’t blend but we vibrate and the colors come vivid through the windows as we go. All the way. I could sing forever that’s the honest truth. I could sing forever.
Temim Fruchter is a writer who lives in Washington, DC. She believes in stories and hot noodles and queer possibility. She is in the University of Maryland’s MFA program for fiction, and her chapbook, I Wanted Just To Be Soft, came out on Anomalous Press in April 2016. Her work has appeared in [PANK], Brevity, Tupelo Quarterly, The Washington City Paper, New South, jmww, Newfound, The Account, and the Tishman Review, among others. More at temimfruchter.wordpress.com.