My wheels slid out from beneath me.
I landed with a slide and thud.
Bruises and swelling.
Scuffed new clothes.
No blood, though.
I considered myself lucky and continued with bent handlebars.
I'd lost my name tag, and it didn't matter.
I came back later and found it in the gutter.
After work, I played cards.
And a vintage goth approached me.
There was an immediate attraction.
Her son was my age,
And I felt a reckoning with my past.
But she spoke of healing practices,
As a genetic biologist,
Discussing the importance of Calcium
To balance the Barium
That so brutally saturates this area.
And she hissed against potatoes
For their Solanine and Chaconine
That apparently prolong pain.
And then she spoke of vampires
Saying that she frequented clubs
When she lived in Brazil
For the vampire crowd
And that she has fangs,
With which she can bite,
But was quick to say that she doesn't.
And I didn't believe her.
And she mentioned "the goddess" whenever possible.
"13 is the goddess' number, that's why it's demonized."
I felt compelled to roll my eyes.
It's not the knowledge, but the sense
That I've been here before.
And I was very aware
That the me eight years ago
Would have been in love.
But Wicca is boring,
And vampires are behind me.
I no longer wish to live forever,
Or to be beautiful and seductive to all.
If anything, I've become more guarded than ever.
Reinforcing a wall once broken,
And waging wars with long-distance weapons.
And still there was something very honest
In this small encounter
That made me pause and consider
The possibilities involved.
And the rings in her ears
Swung with every movement.
And she spoke of the multicolored hair
She used to have
Before her colleagues told her to be more professional.
And she gave me a shot of ginseng
That looked like a bottle of insulin
To be treated like a Capri Sun.
And a raw food energy bar,
A flavor of which I hadn't had before.
If I had met this person 10 years ago
I would have fetishized her existence.
And the idea of it made me feel old
While I was aware I made her feel young.
And the old vampiric feelings came creeping back,
Despite my intentions.
She kept telling me that I look tired
Because she saw my fragility.
And I told her I was just sore
And, yes, a little tired.
Instead of depressed and alone.
While she was potentially the only person
I encountered that day
That perhaps wanted to hear that from me
To use it as an opportunity
To leap over my apprehensive walls,
I had lied.
And then there was a nap.
And then a call.
Then a drive.
And finally a bonfire.
Surrounded by card players
Getting drunk, having fun.
I stood alone as a friend made his move
On a girl in one of his classes.
And I watched a boy
Who'd just grabbed my tits
Wrestle a girl to the ground.
And forget my existence.
I stared into those flames and reminisced
On all occasions during which I had stared into flames
And felt lonely, but ready.
For what, I don't know.
And then a girl approached me from behind
With glasses and a very serious expression
Only to state her name.
I responded apprehensively with mine
And as the last letter rolled off of my tongue
She asked if I was lonely.
I stared, then shrugged.
"No, not really..."
"Well, you look really lonely."
And I lied again, and again.
And suddenly she left.
And I only felt tired and old.