1729 c/o Sarah Jean Alexander

Violent Knight

I braid my hair away from my forehead and pull it back into a tight bun. I take my glasses off and wash the oil and makeup off of my face. I grab a towel with my eyes still closed and pat-dry my skin. I squint into the mirror and see a blurry portrait of a bald woman. I put myself into bed and dream about a day of us at 85.

We will walk arm in arm, my wrist resting on your elbow-bend. We will walk slowly down the Charles Street sidewalk. You will make a joke about white people and I will laugh. You will step off the curb first and turn around to help me down. We will walk across the street. Two cars will honk aggressively at us and you will yell, "Pedestrians have the right of way, Jackass!" at them and I will gratefully pat your arm and say, "Thank you, dear." Another car will brake suddenly and create a thick billow of gray smoke. The scent of burnt rubber will fill our nasal cavities as we reach the other side of the road, but neither of us will be able to smell much of anything anymore.

We will step onto the grass at the edge of the park and stand near the Barye Lion Statue. I will turn to you and touch an old, deteriorating mole on your forehead and say, "I love your desensitized nostrils" and I will lean forward slowly, always slowly, and kiss each of your nostrils as my trembling hands hold onto the sides of your flabby neck. You will kiss the top of my head and say, "I love your broken hair follicles." You will joke about them, saying, "Oh I think I found one!" and we will both laugh, because while permanent hair loss after four years of on and off chemotherapy treatments isn't guaranteed, we will have been prepared after the first two.

I will suggest sitting down on a nearby bench because I can hear your knees beginning to crack and break and you will agree because you can feel your knees beginning to crack and break. After a few minutes of adjusting, we will be settled in and facing two young women playing a game of chess at one of the park's game tables.

You will place a bet on the blonde. I will agree to your bet but I will say the brunette will capture the other's queen first. We will shake hands firmly and you will glare at me with your entire face and I will smile and kiss you on the cheek. You will still be glaring as you pull my hand towards you and kiss each of my 85-year-old translucent fingertips. You will have finished glaring by the time you reach my pinky. We will turn our attention back to the game.

Each player will wait at least three minutes before making a move. I will watch the game intently, but you will eventually become distracted by the squirrels in the park. You will hold out your hand as if you are holding a peanut and the squirrels will slowly creep up to our bench. When a squirrel is just a few inches from your hand, you will snap your fingers loudly and the squirrel will sprint away, startled. You will nudge me every time this happens and laugh loudly and ask, "Did you see that squirrel!" I will laugh too and say, "Yes, I saw him!"

The sun will begin to compete with the top of a nearby cathedral spire and ultimately the sun will lose and go into hiding. You will suggest heading home soon and I will say, "Wait watch this--" and we will watch the brunette capture the enemy's queen using a knight and you will say "Wow that is one violent knight," and we will stand up and head back towards the street and slowly walk home together.