Rainbow Pollution

April 27, 2012

It felt dry in Washington as the redline escalator carried Jasper out to DuPont Circle.  He planned to meet a good friend, Lena.  She texted him earlier that some fabulous news came out of the blue, and they just must meet up for a coffee date so she could spill.  This sort of news made Jasper nervous.  Surprises never go well for a person hidden beneath books all day, but he loved Lena and she loved Jasper.  As he stepped off the ascending stairs, the sun sunk into the marble monuments, leaving the skylight refracted into a color like rainbow pollution.  A bright flag hung limp straight across the metro station outside the café, where Jasper spotted Lena fingering through a Ginsberg poem at an outside table.  He quickly lit a cigarette before circling to the other side.

He only sucked down half a smoke before spitting it out.  These days one might’ve fined a person for lighting up near the open edges of an establishment.  Besides Lena never smoked.  Her cheeks rounded like peaches when Jasper tapped her back.

“What’d ya get me, lady?” he asked with an unforced grin.

“Oh, Jasper!  You won’t believe it.  Grab us a cup of coffee, and I’ll tell you everything.”

With rolled eyes and a twirl in and out the door, Jasper returned with two cherry white mochas.  He set the ceramic mugs lightly on the table so not to splash any froth on the thick striped shirt-skirt he admired on her.

“Thanks, babe.  How’s work?” she asked.

“It’s the bottom floor of the Library of Congress.  It blows,” Jasper replied.

“And not in the good way.”

They laughed at the inside joke Jasper had with all his girlfriends.  Lena sipped caffeine with both hands while yellow-gold irises singed together the green-grey hue of his.  He knew she’d reveal what brought them together that evening, but Lena took time making sure things felt right.

“So I bet you went home with that blonde last night, huh?” Lena asked.

“Sure did.  I couldn’t say no to a smile like that.” Jasper’s forehead reddened.

“You forgot to mention his ass.  Mmm, I bet that was firm.”  Jasper particularly enjoyed when women objectified men.

Jasper’s arms heated up.  He liked guys, but he himself was never one to publicly objectify.  Even though seven years had passed since his father spit words at him, claiming he’s too young to actually make a choice straight kids don’t.  This was after Jasper admitted the boy driving him to school freshmen year was more than a friend.  A good thing that was though; a father’s naivety meant sex slept over sex with legs touching toes at night.

“So…” he drifted his gaze.  The moon was coming into the night.

“I’m moving to Oakland Heights, Jasper.”  Silence.  “You heard me?  I’m leaving,” more silence.  Lena just moved to D.C. less than a year ago from Cincinnati.  The year before, she stayed in Kokomo for six months.  That was before living in El Paso where people said she turned up and left without telling a soul.

“But why?  Don’t you like D.C.?  You just got here.”  Jasper pleaded.

“I like you, Jasper.  I’m going to stay with beautiful people.  I can’t stay here in a box anymore.  So many rules.  Everyone expects me to walk and talk for them.  I’m my own person, not anyone else’s.  I don’t fit any metro role.  And why should I?”  Lena meant to comfort Jasper, but got lost in explanation.  She stood up bumping her hips against the table—because she was a person who could never handle conflict, causing the half-finished mocha to shoot into spongy sidewalk.

“Well, when’re you leaving?  We should go out one last time,” Jasper suggested.

“In the morning, sweetheart.  Will you take care of that?  I have to pack,” Lena asked.  Her hands anxiously pushed crimson hair behind pierced ears.  She began to rush off, but knew Jasper’s tendency to silently beg.  “Why don’t you come by in an hour or so?  You could help me pack.”

Jasper nodded to all above.  He knew she invited him for his sake, but still, the sentiment wasn’t lost.

The hour passed and he hopped the Circulator, getting off at the steps going down into her room.  Jasper saw black trash bags stacked against a wall through the door window wall fall over.  The knob locked.  Strange.  He knocked on the door.  Lena came out from her closet with a stuffed bag and swung open the basement entrance.

“Sorry.  I just have to,” Lena said.  He rushed her.  “I can’t feel stuck, ya know?  We’ll stay friends.”  Jasper huffed.  Lena already had a problem answering his calls living seven blocks away.  “Talk to me.  I know.  You can say.”

Jasper had walked all over to the baggage.  Cross armed and stiff he started, “What sort of person leaves without a day’s notice?  You’ve other friends too, ya know?  Have you told ‘em?  Or is this place just like all other places?”  Jasper loosened his arms and punched his chest, “Fuck’s sake.  Out of all people, you know me.  You say what I say.  Why now?  Lena, I love you more than any girl and most boys.  Our relationship is different.  Why do you always leave?”

Lena dropped to her feet.  Calloused, bruised, and tired; she edged across the closet’s threshold to sit in the mess she wanted so bad packed, but ran out of bags.

“Say something!  Do you feel a thing at all!” he screamed from nowhere.

“I feel,” cut short, Jasper yanked the travelling feet from the closet depths.  Lena flung her back on a new hardwood surface.  Jasper collapsed into the other body for the first time.  Their lips burned in an unknowable sin as tongues spoke tongues in language busting blue veins like gasoline meeting a single match.  The words came after.  The exact one’s only once.

Jasper let her go when the wet sun rose, and even though they parted, she always managed to float in and out of his life whenever one or the other needed a climax.


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