Karen. Karen. Oh Karen. My sister’s best friend, Karen.

Karen sleeps over at my house when I am 14. Karen is 15. I am 14. Karen never speaks to me, Karen never speaks to me much, but I never speak to Karen much.

When she’s in the same room as me, I go behind her so if I choose to look at her, she won’t see me looking at her. I didn’t know this then, but I know this now. Karen does the same thing to me when I am not paying attention.

Two kids in the same room trying to hide behind each other’s back so we can look at the other hiding behind the other’s back.

When my sister sleeps. When my sister sleeps, Karen and I go down to the basement where the moonlight filters down from the window near the ceiling of the basement. The window has to be near the ceiling because the basement is underground. In the summer, grass grows up against the window and stencils wild shadows on the basement floor.

On nights when the moon is full or mostly full, the whole basement is blue, except for the orange slabs of carpet covering the concrete floor. My brother and I play real tackle football down in this basement, on this orange carpet turf.

Karen and I go down to the basement in the moonlight. We take off all of our clothes. We take off our clothes and sit side by side with our legs folded underneath us. We never touch.

We sit naked facing forward. No one gets to sit slightly behind. We sit in the moonlight telling each other lies. Our breath shutters and gasps in the cold moonlight, like dust. It never settles. It gets sucked back. Molecules in us are now in something else. We share breath that we can barely see.

Karen says “my bones are made of a junglegym.”

I say “my father juggles with one ball.”

Karen says “I only boil water that has sand in it.”

I say “my uncle cuts off his trigger finger, cuts off his penis, switches them to get out of the war.”

Karen says “my knees are glass bricks that don’t bend but unhinge.”

My sister comes down while we are telling lies. My sister comes down and looks at our naked bodies and her eyeball starts to tear.

Not like tears though, but like blood squelched between two panes of broken glass.

Photo By: Stefano