Amanda Gaines

Something About Which We Could Talk Forever


“The conception of rhythm [] is something about which we could talk forever, and still not finish.” —Ted Shawn


My house. 22. After K. “Miss Murder.”


Snare drums thrummed from my computer’s speakers. Davey Havok’s voice swelled like an infected wound: lodged gravel shaken loose, yellow rage and release. Outside, the sky bruised.


Somewhere miles off, skin from my heels where he’d touched me waited in sealed vials. Cotton rounds run inside my cheeks sat in plastic bags as proof of nothing. I closed my eyes, nodded my head, unkempt hair spilling over my face. I struck the floor in time with the beat. The thin carpet absorbed the sound. Small lights lined my room: cameras flashing above a sweat-slicked octagon.


I stood up suddenly, sending my cats careening beneath my bed. I spun, fingers slicing through the still, smoky air of my room. For a moment, slam dancing in the dark, the sound of guitars breaking down like car metal warping around a pole, I floated. There was just empty house, a shaking floor. A white wall that I’d kicked in behind me.



Stephen’s house. 23. After midnight. “When We Break.”


We stayed like that for hours, shimmying around the basement, shoulders almost brushing, footstep electric. I’d forgotten what this felt like. To be seen and not touched. To be seen and wanting to be touched. He could have pulled me upstairs. He could have laid me across his bed like fresh laundry. I would have let him. I did a lot of letting, nowadays. But he didn’t, I realized, want to do anything but dance.


There was a party going on upstairs. We knew that. A weight bench took up most of the small space. We could have stumbled on it, but didn’t. He slid, clapped. I spun, threw both hands over my hip. Fluorescent light never looked so good. We were baptising this would-be spare room, flinging our sweat onto the beige carpet. A leather couch sunk in the corner. A shoddy bar sported empty Burnett’s bottles. My hands tingled. Reach for them, I prayed. The old-school stereo crackled. Its speakers groaned under the pressure of volume. I thumbed the dial and turned it all the way up.



Vice-Versa. 24. After workshop. “Where Have You Been?”


She stepped on the stage and her hips sunk like honey in hot tea. When she moved across the floor, her feet made a mosaic of black and white tiles. The ribbed metallic walls shone. Her clavicle glistened with sweat. Red and green lights flitted across the floor, across the stretch of her pale, naked arms. She was a leopard in a fever dream slinking around, neon-spotted and purposeful. She scared me. She, who was always so stiff and beautifully unknowable, had transformed under warm bar lights. The fan in the corner had seemed to blow off her pretense and allowed her allowance. If I had known, I would have come here with her sooner. I tried to keep up, to match her stare. To move as if I was underwater, being watched and not noticing.


I hadn’t asked, just wanted. I kissed her like a sandpiper grasping at a hole in the sand: quick, desperate. Hungry. She looked at me with surprise, her blue eyes wide, blonde brows furrowed. I wanted to tell her I hadn’t known, either. Instead, I ran out without saying goodbye. Outside, lamp posts bore holes in the black night. I sprinted past them, bare feet thudding a panicked beat all the way home. So-rry. I’m so-rry.



Our kitchen. 25. Night. “River.”


He hadn’t wanted to, but I took his hand and led us. We slow-danced with the lights low. I pressed my face into his shoulder. He smelled like flour and car sex. He kissed the top of my head. Our feet stuck to the dirty linoleum. I would swallow you whole, I told him. Just to be closer.


I was drunk. He wasn’t. It was always like that with us, it seemed. Looking back, I knew he had let go long before he left. I didn’t want to see. Now, I close my eyes. I draw the room in my mind. The wobbly table my mother made me. The dried flowers hung upside down for longevity. Weed smoke lingering in the still air. I’m the only person there. I’m the only person there, a girl so drunk and lonely she sees double. A girl so drunk and lonely that she gives her shadow hands.


Amanda Gaines is a PhD candidate in CNF in OSU’s creative writing program. She is the nonfiction editor of Into the Void. Her poetry and nonfiction are published or awaiting publication in The Oyez Review, Gravel, Typehouse, Pithead Chapel, The Citron Review, Yemassee, Redivider, New Orleans Review, and Southeast Review.