We walk into the ellipsis of a dream. He’s stationed across from me, on the stairs, and he’s wearing an adult diaper and a pair of angel wings. I want him to notice me, and I point to the wings on my back and then to his and claim, “Look, we’re cousins.” He looks at me disdainfully, yeah, hey. I don’t like him. He shook my hand five minutes ago when I came in. Hi, I’m Derek, this is my house. I’m the white guy who lays claim to everything and then stakes my flag that states “FOR THE GREATER GOOD (AND BY EXTENSION, YOURS TOO)” into the ground. I know who he is, but he doesn’t know that because he doesn’t know me and he doesn’t realize he was in love with my best friend for years but stopped talking to her when he married his wife. She says he’s a really good guy but her judgement, especially when it relates to guys who are in love with her, is suspect. She’s usually great at divining character but it really throws off her radar when you’re romantically in love with her. She has trouble seeing through the fog. And why not? love is vibrant, alive, electric – exactly the sort of thing that fucks with sensitive instruments of measurement.
I walk away from Derek, due north, my compass still functioning, immune to the Bermuda Triangle of his indifference. Snap judgements like a jet pilot, like someone, like anyone who has little time and a lot at stake.
Coils of string lights wrap the fence line, bohemian barbed wire to keep the revellers in line. They lead packs of costumed twenty-and-thirty-somethings down to a fire in the lower field. Consuming alcohol, doing drugs, gathering for the greater good. Patting ourselves on the costumed back for our affluent generosity, ten bucks at the door to save a pipeline, or something. This is the activism we can support, legions of white suburban kids with guilt around our necks like mardi gras beads. We want absolution by pleasing ourselves in a way we can be proud of. I glance at the green glow in the glass house, tents lined up between the tomato plants. People who fight the real fight, standing in the mud in front of logging trucks (this is how I picture every protest that takes place on the coast, grandmothers staring down giant machinery, destroying their progress with grandmother-power, unstoppable). I step in to the glass house, keeping my eyes away from the real people who speak softly and with intent, discussing the next step, strategizing. I let my fingers rub the sticking tar off the tomato plants, repeatedly touching and releasing my thumb and middle finger. I walk the outside row of plants, touching, pausing to smell my fingers. I can feel someone, large and male and indifferent, behind me.
I turn around and there’s no reason for him being there but me, and I touch him with my sticking fingers in the place of words, and I pull his uninterested hands to more interesting parts of me. Sticky fingers, sticky fingers.
When our moment has passed, he tells me I’m a slut. I tell him people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, finding myself clever but not precious. I plan to tell Danielle tomorrow that it was a good thing she didn’t love him back, that he’s an asshole who cheats on his wife and is mean to guests in his home. I tell him he’s full of shit, that his adult diaper is probably full of giant turds that reek of self-satisfaction. I smile widely, baring my canines, and punch one of the glass panes. He backs away, stumbling back to the crutch of his activist role, eyes wide and unsure. I stay standing and smiling, with blood running between my knuckles.