We sit on the roof, Chaz and I, as the sun sets over the city, and I tell him how I don’t leave knives out at night.
“Like on the counter,” I say. “Just in case I sleepwalk or…I don’t know. I just wouldn’t want to accidentally stab someone or cut off my finger or something.”
Chaz squeezes my hand. He’s been gone, but now he’s back, and I feel like things will be different now.
We sit on the roof and I tell him how my best friend Ellee and I used to do this, sit on the roof. In high school. We’d crawl out her bedroom window and sit on the eaves. I don’t tell him that we actually only did this once.
Chaz and I sit on the roof and I tell him how when Ellee and I were sixteen, we drove to a Circle K to buy cigarettes for the first time. We waited until it was dark and then drove two towns over so that no one we knew would see us. We bought Misty’s. The slender pack, pastel-colored if I remember correctly, seemed less intimidating than the other brands. More delicate. And then we stood in the Circle K parking lot smoking them and coughing.
Chaz has been gone, but I don’t ask questions like where he’s been because then I’d have to explain, too. I don’t even ask him how he knew where to find me. I guess I’m just glad he did.
We sit on the roof and Chaz tells me that sometimes, if he orders pizza by himself, he starts eating and can’t stop. And then it all comes back up, whether he wants it to or not. And sometimes he does, and sometimes he doesn’t.
Now it’s my turn to squeeze his hand. Maybe as reassurance that things will be different this time.
The street below is both empty and full. A woman pushes a shopping cart across the intersection, jaywalking. If I lean to the right, I can almost see Wegman’s around the corner. But I don’t lean to the right. I just know it’s there.
He’s been gone, and now he’s back, and even if it feels like it will last, I know it’s only temporary. Just like anything.
We sit on the roof and I tell Chaz how, when we were sixteen, Ellee and I bought these black miniskirts and tight low-cut tops with billowy, flowery sleeves. The style of the early ‘90s. We bought them as though we might actually wear them somewhere. Other than the roof.
We sit on the roof and I tell Chaz that I never smoked Misty’s again. In college, it was bidis and cloves. He knows that, though.
He makes a face. “I never liked cloves,” he says. “Couldn’t stand the smell.” He lights a Marlboro.
“That’s what I liked about them,” I say.
We sit on the roof and I tell Chaz that I didn’t really sit on the roof with Ellee. I didn’t leave the window; I couldn’t. I was afraid to let go of the ledge, afraid to have my body exposed to the wind, the trees, the neighbors. I didn’t want to fall off the roof in that miniskirt. Or that tight flowery blouse with the billowy sleeves.
“I’m afraid of heights,” I say.
Chaz nods. “Me, too.”