Ana, In Parts
Fridays, after school. We take the 57 to St. Catherine's on Redondo Beach Boulevard to confess.
She always wants me to go first.
"I think you just like me to wait for you."
She kneels, I enter. I spend fifteen minutes telling my weekly failures to the man behind the screen. Twelve 'hail marys' later I spend forty-five minutes in old-growth pew, stare at the crucifixion in reds and yellows above me.
Eventually she emerges. We take the 61 to her house off the 405 where we make- out in her closet, our bodies against the long mirror.
This is one of many rituals we perform to the rhythm of speeding cars outside her window.
This is the first girl I ever touch in slivers of orange sun.
"You look good against my wall in the afternoon," Ana says.
She lays down on a twin bed in the back of my shadows.
"Hey, come here."
Ana whispers from dim hallway.
"Where have you been? You know your cousin's looking for you," I say.
She pulls my wrists into the waiting room where brides dress themselves.
"You look so beautiful. I just wanted to tell you that."
Her hands rest themselves on my hips, the heat from her mouth on my neck turns my cheeks the color of our quincenera dresses.
"Let's stay in here, mija. Just for a little bit."
Our gowns create a chorus of friction on the small bench near the door. I'm afraid it's enough to signal our sin to the outside.
"Not so loud," I say, my fingers losing themselves in her dark hair.
On the train the other day, I heard a woman's dress against a man's pant leg. It's been a song I just can't get out of my head, for days.
Ana moves. Ana goes to other school. Ana acquires boyfriend. Ana has baby (Mario). Ana boards plane to Texas. Ana sends pictures in floral stationary to my college dorm, freshman year. Ana runs out of stamps.
I talk in my sleep. It's a bad habit, I know, but I just can't help it. Once in the bed of a one-night-stand I whispered, "No-- no me gusta adios, Ana." In the morning the woman told me I left my heart in Ana's suitcase. Funny thing. I knew exactly what she meant.
The phone alarms me from sleep.
"You still sleep until noon, eh?"
"Ana? Ana! Ana."
"I'm in Compton for four days. Come take me out for a drink tonight."
This turns into take me to a hotel, then take me to the sheets, then take me...
In white daylight I want to ask her where she's been. Why did she take so long in confession. Does she still have the pictures we took on the Santa Monica Pier. Do I still kiss the same, awkward, excited. Instead I ask,
"Do you wanna go to I-Hop?"
Ana rides in passenger seat of car. Ana says she'll call. Ana boards plane to Arizona...
I return to school. I acquire new girlfriend. I graduate. I move. I get teaching job. I publish. I never hear from Ana.
"Do you think we'll still know each other when we're old? Like twenty or something?"
"Yeah; hell yeah."
"'Cause my cousin, Mai, is twenty-two and she don't know nobody."
"Yeah, but your cousin's kinda boring."
"Yeah, that's true. We'll always know each other."
I see this carved in the sidewalk at 25th and Mission on my way home from running.