Desert Hearts

Desert Hearts

March 30, 2021 2 Comments

 

I was sitting on my friend's balcony, drinking her family's homemade wine, when I realized for the hundredth time that I loved her. In that same moment, I knew I would never lean over and brush her hair away from her eyes. We had come out when the sun was bathing her mother's dying tomato plant in its golden light, but now it was dark. Light trickled out from the living room where her father laughed at something on the television.  

We spent the night talking about the summer—which swimming holes might not attract large crowds, the marijuana my mom grew in the garage that she thought I didn't know about and how to pilfer some of it for ourselves without her noticing. We didn’t talk about how at the end of August she would be moving to Victoria and I would be staying behind—bagging groceries for another year and saving for college; about how I was stuck in the place where the only openly gay kid we knew had to eat his lunch in our English teacher’s classroom. 

In truth, we wouldn’t swim or smoke as much as we wanted to. Most mornings I would get up at six and steal a moment in the driveway to look at the sunrise, to feel the light on my face. All while knowing I would be sweating through my polyester uniform by noon, wishing she and I were lying on the beach at Cumberland Lake, speculating about how many dead bodies were in the water. 

Sometime after midnight we slipped off the porch, and she walked me home, her overweight dog in tow. Every few meters the dog would stop to sniff at a telephone pole or some grass. My mother was already asleep, so I tiptoed through the hallway as quietly as I could. The microwave read 1:33 am.

I propped up my pillows against the wall and opened my laptop to watch a movie. An old favourite. Set in 1959, an academic travels to Reno from New York to get a quick divorce. She is straightlaced, almost prudish. All of that is undone by a rancher's daughter, a woman ten years her junior who drives a black convertible backwards on the highway, who drinks sparkling wine in the tub with her best friend, who makes absurdly wonderful pieces of pottery. 

Neither of the actors were lesbians, but watching their beautiful faces contort in longing I was assured that something perfect existed. Watching them confess their love against a lake on a foggy day, satin shirts shining like promises, I affirmed my conviction that I could distill desire into something entirely personal, to do away with what would mar it. Nothing could be as perfect as the scene when Vivian, disheveled but lovely, rounds the corner of her kitchenette to find Kay in bed, skin like a Gérard painting, dark eyes pleading for a chance.

 

 

Clara Otto is a Canadian writer. She is currently an MFA student at the University of British Columbia. Her work has been published in Plenitude Magazine and The Maynard. You can find her on twitter at @hypotheticalUFO
Photo cred: Marie S on Unsplash


2 Responses

Janet Ruth Heller
Janet Ruth Heller

April 03, 2021

I enjoyed reading this very much. Clara Otto captures a phase in many people’s lives when they are on the verge of new experiences and of fulfilling their dreams and wishes. Best wishes!

Ariel
Ariel

April 03, 2021

Lovely, evocative writing. I want to know the name of that movie!

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