The Ridiculous leaves a club before midnight.

Pink and blue neon lights cut through the smoky haze at MJQ. The underground club was relatively calm for a Friday night, but Andrea and I arrived when it opened at ten PM. We grabbed whiskey Diet Cokes at the bar and slid into an empty booth by the dance floor.

After observing the handful of people dancing, a thin mixed girl approached us.

“Hey, I’m Lizzie.”

We took turns shaking her proffered hand.

“I’m Samantha. This is Andrea.”

“Is anyone sitting here?” Lizzie gestured to the space next to Andrea.

“Nope!” Andrea replied.

Lizzie sat millimeters away from Andrea, who automatically  scooted closer to and rested her head on my shoulder.

Undeterred, Lizzie asked, “Do y’all wanna dance?”

“Sure!” Andrea jumped up and pulled me up after her.

Andrea shuffled and I twirled. Lizzie looped an arm around each of our waists, steering us so she would be the middle of a grinding sandwich. Quickly, I pulled Andrea to the bar. As we waited for our refills, Lizzie joined us.

“I’m cold.” Andrea shivered, hugging me.

Lizzie sized us up. “So how long have y’all been together?”

“Since we were fourteen!” Andrea sipped her freshened drink, still locked in a half-hug with me.

“Wow, so what, that’s like…ten years?”

“As of this summer, yep.”

“How ’bout y’all come back to my place? It’ll be quieter, so we can chill and get to know each other better.”

I finally spoke up. “No thank you! We’re going home.”

Lizzie frowned. “Y’all don’t want me to walk you there?”

I shook my head. “We’ll be fine — it’s just down the street.”

Andrea’s brow furrowed. “What about our drinks?”

“Chug it!”

“Aight, next time then!” Lizzie winked and walked back to the dance floor.

Once outside, I looped my arm through Andrea’s to prevent her from stumbling.

“Lizzie was trying to get us to go home with her.”

“Yeah, to hang out since it was smoky and loud in there.”

“No. She thought we were a couple. She wanted to hook up with us.”

“What?! How could she think that?!”

“You misunderstood her question when she asked how long we had been together.”

Oh, she meant, like — how long we were dating?”

“Yes.”

We exchanged looks and burst into raucous laughter.

“You love Ceddy and I love men too much.”

“It wouldn’t be an experiment in lesbianism — it would be incest.”

“Exactly! You’re not some random girl from the club. We’re sisters!”

“Only an event like this would make us leave a club before last call.”

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Reciprocal

Propped up on elbows, we face each other.
Whispering in the dark, though no one else can hear.
You press my lips shut to interrupt my babbling.

    “Sam — I love you.”
    “Really?”
    “Yes, really. Why else would I say it?”
    “I love you, too.”

Cradling my face in your hands,
you kiss me soundly
and brush my tears aside.

    “Why didn’t you say something before?”
    “Timing mostly.”
    “I’m really glad you said it.”
    “Me too. I mean it.”

This night isn’t the evening of Valentine’s Day.
It’s the first time you affirm
everything you demonstrate daily.

Dusk

Blankets crumpled at the foot of our bed,
overhead fan whirring,
almost tuning out the fighting drunks at El Bar.
Reflexively,
you reach for me and I curl into you.
The only instance when
I never complain
of being enveloped in heat.
It’s impossible to sleep
without your breath on my neck
and the safety of your arms.

Landmarks

There’s a modern apartment in Bastille,
hidden in an elevator-less building
up four flights of creaking stairs.
Under a duvet printed with the New York skyline,
you wrapped an arm around my waist, our legs entwined.
Ear pressed to your chest, I listened to your heart’s steady beat.

“We haven’t talked about us in awhile…
I just wanted to see how you were feeling and to know where you were at.”
Floodgates for words and tears swung open.
(Mostly.)
“If there’s anything you’re keeping from me, you know you can tell me.”
“I know…”
(Je t’aime.)
“Why – is there anything you wanted to say to me?”
“Nope – just asking you.”

There’s a retro apartment in the Highlands,
a cozy unit in a former hotel
up three flights of clanging stairs.
After scrambling to find lamb and a roasting pan,
I walked through the door, noticed you cooking in the kitchen.
Deftly dodging snippy remarks, you rubbed my shoulders and said,

“It’s just a regular night. You need to sit down and relax.”
Upon telling you about work, you were right.
It wasn’t a fine day.
(I appreciate how perceptive you are.)
“I also got some groceries – they’re in the fridge.”
(Seriously.)
“That was really sweet – thanks, mister.”
“It’s cool, no big deal.”
(Except the sum of all the little things is.)

There’s an office in West Midtown,
a corporate tower emblazoned
with the company’s red logo.
Coasting into the driveway, I parked the car curbside.
An unabashed grin stretched across your mouth.
Shyly, I squeezed your hand and asked,

“What’s up?”
“Nothing!”
Widening your eyes, you continued smiling.
(I love your silly moments as much as your serious side.)
Giggling, I leaned over and kissed you goodbye.
“Talk to you later.”
(I love your hello and goodbye kisses equally. But mostly –)
“See you tonight!”
(I love you.)