The football field gets gray and stretches out forever, disappearing the two endzones, the word “endzone,” and the sense that one could ever, truly, touch down. The light softens and plays a game in the hollow plains on his cheeks. His black eyes are gentle, but his jaw is cocky and uplifted. He strums his guitar with nimble fingers, or the shadows only think he does.
Where’d you get yourself to, little mama?
I don’t know. Where is this?
Here, behind the curtain, the wizard waits for a moon to never rise and shepherds past him the souls of all the children to a place he knows they come from. He doesn’t have wings, even though he knows all the angels by name. He rests easy in the stillness, the music in the air strolling by with the ever-present sound of birds and a hot wind.
The doors to and from Nowhere are all white as snow in the blue twilight. They all bear a gold knob that doesn’t lock. They all look like the doors that lead to a disused closet or a drafty guest room.
Who’s Rosie? Why’ve I got her clothes on?
He shrugs a shrug that could mean anything, and points in a direction that could mean anywhere. If this was a game show, any door would be the same because I know Nowhere is behind it. A pocket of time he’ll show me before it disappears forever. The ghost of Christmas Never. He stands behind me as I face one, and laces himself through the fibers of all my dreams and nightmares, pours like smoke into the corners of every room of me, and leaves a yellow daisy in my hair.
I’m watching you.
I draw up to him all the nights spent watching the sun set and knowing there was some sort of escape. I draw it all up to him, the jolting and sexual shocks I feel when I think about making choices and where they lead me. When I think about running away from home. When I consider while touching my own skin if I can really die. It all goes to him in a moment, his young breath warm on my neck asking me to stay but not stay, because the action can’t exist where he lives. The one who knows the price of everything. How much for this, Christian? How much for this? And one by one, I take off the things that seem so silly in the half-light.
How much does this go for, Jimi?
His eyes stay gentle.
Nothing, mija. That I keep for myself.
I don’t know where I am, or who I am. I only know which way home is.
His eyes get weak the way he says, “Good. Good, Evelin.”
Did you know? Did you know when I’m here, Grady, when I get here, when I’m not sure where to go, did you know I’m with you?
Weaker, and the wind shifts.
Why it’s always him, Adam, see? I see, Evie. We get there. We get ourselves there. Maybe Grady is a door to angels and dragons just push to...be inside.
I end up on your doorstep, Grady. I end up there, crying, alone, with wet hair and a torn dress. I end up. I end, here, with the song playing that marks the passage of us from one world into the next. And you tell me the same thing.
I don’t know where to go.
Can get anywhere from Nowhere, Eve.
I try any door because any door is at least a door, and I’m in her room.
Alone, nothing breathes, not even the darkness. The stillness is accentuated by the smell that the room has been desolate and empty for a millennia or more. Dust would be heavy and thick on every surface if it hadn’t been magically sealed like a foil-wrapped meal and kept in a loa’s freezer for nights he worked late. The smell in the air is one of chalk and dried roses and the smell the vacuum leaves behind, over plastic beads, almost sweet, and the plain cold cake scent of makeup.
I find a corner and fold myself into it, hugging jacket to my ribs. This is my room. It’s familiar in a close way that says to me if I look under the junk in this drawer, I’ll find a diary written in code detailing a life I’ve already lived. A small and scattered stack of CD’s litters the bed, cases open and cracked and worn matte from rubbing together so long. I don’t look at them. I don’t ponder their titles in fascination because I own them, and I left them there. I find a bit of the carpet that is pulling loose and pick at it. I notice the shadows on the ceiling reflected in the mirror. I lay down and sleep.
When I wake up, night has fallen or I think it has. She’s been here, the angel I know is named Rose. I can smell her on the edge of the air, and I can feel her, see her draping over me the black coat that I was laying beneath.
Rosie is the kind of person who finds girls sleeping in her room she doesn’t know and covers them with the jacket she was wearing.
Do you go to my school?
They wouldn’t take me there.
I look through her pockets and I stand in front of the mirror, which is plastered with photographs of my brothers.
Did you know about me?
I know about you, little fox.
I pull one down of Brad, and my eyes water and I choke.
I miss Brad.
I shove the photo in my pocket. I bring the jacket close to me and smell the scent in the collar. She smells like a girl smells, the smell I know I don’t have and I don’t know why. The antique doll smell of hair and old lace that lingers under everything she touches like the lotions our grandmothers use. I don’t have it because I’m a boy with a girl’s name.
He didn’t go anywhere, really.
I wipe off her lipstick, easily applied.
Don’t. Don’t put that shit on me. I know all about it.
You don’t know shit. Hold still.
I stand still in the mirror, but let my mouth move under her fingers.
No one can love me.
No, Evie, you can’t love anyone.
I can love you.
I don’t need you to love me.
A thick white band crosses the mirror. Soap or something heavier. I wipe it clean and she doesn’t look at me.
That’s why I can love you. You don’t need it. Need me.
You can’t go where I go.
Yes, I can.
The song starts loud and jarring, the sound of her fear blending into something that is soft and used to implement her many tools of trade. She says the words, soft, like I don’t know them.
You had to sneak into my room, just to read my diary. It was just to see all the things you knew I’d written about you.
As the dream fades, I clutch tight the photo of Brad and when it starts to vanish, I feel her grip my hand tight, in the room with her for the first time. Her brown eyes focus close to mine.