at the park, holding a book, scribbling down thoughts I pray the page is worthy of, hoping someone, anyone, cares enough to read, or at least I care enough to remember.

I peer from my porous handwriting to a plethora of people so forgettable they could be Sims characters. The roller-skater chick in a too revealing sundress lets it sway with every stride for “self-confidence,” not for any man to see, especially not me, despite skating for nothing less than vanity, and the thirsty dog that’s chasing her, tongue dragging on the floor, striving to catch a sniff of sweat or love, which is all the same to me, and the rapper ear-raping her AirPods with an explicit track that’s offensive to everyone, especially his mother, and the noose around dog’s neck that I’d love to share, don’t notice the stranger, head, toes, and eyes, shrouded in black, like shit cooking in the sun, dying a slow death in the unbearable heat on a bench near no one.

Not having sunblock is a cockblock. My face is faded salmon, and I probably look like an expired strawberry — quite the hangover meal. Curse my dad for giving me his pasty complexion, his sullen temperament, his depression, his insomnia, his rage, but not his grey green eyes. No wonder I wear shades. He cursed me with life but not enough will to see it.

Gusts of wind rising from the bay turn my pages into fans and sundresses into lingerie. Sometimes, I’m a fan of the wind. Sometimes. My hair is curly in all the right places, messy at all the right times, so even a blowjob from Katrina won’t make a difference. I couldn’t be any messier if I tried. But I can’t say that about everyone.

I know a girl who fights every breeze like Tom Brady coming out of retirement just to shit on New Orleans (Katrina 2.0). The wind is the one thing she can’t control. She hates it. She yearns for a gust she can latch on too. She prays for a tornado that turns her cow into a steak instead of sending it away. All she wants is something malleable: a kiss she can bite, a hug she can suffocate. Imagine a world with such reign. It doesn’t exist, yet she fights hard to manifest it. She doesn’t hold hands; she imprisons them. She doesn’t run on grass; she kicks the roots under them. She doesn’t drink; she drowns… just like me. That’s why it’s so much more special when she lets me in. She lets me drive, she lets me order, she grants me the power to decide — something all women have inside. For once, she doesn’t oppose the wind; she embraces it. She replaces all her worries with fears I’ve instilled. She gives up her power for the belief that I won’t kill. That’s all that matters. She always has a choice, but I want her to pretend she doesn’t. Women have all the power, it’s up to them to give us what we’re after.

Here comes another lap from the roller-skater, sundress still intact. She must be a professional by now. The dog is long gone, probably finding a new toy to catch or a better ass to sniff. Isn’t that all of us? Never satiated until life catches up and bites us in the ass. Unfortunately for me and my sundrenched cheeks, but fortunately for her sundrenched ass cheeks, she did catch the attention of another type of dog. Refs, as I’d call them in 2016, trace her scent. I haven’t seen this breed since the second-floor high school hallway that permanently reeked of chewing tobacco and sardines (don’t ask). They’re loud, brash, and whistling with an accent that turns “Walmart” into “Gualmar”. Their skintight jeans are far below what’s safe for work, showing more entryway than an airport. Why wear a belt if it’s just going to weigh them down? Maybe they just like to sniff each other for a true whiff of friendship. After all, they wouldn’t leave the door open if they didn’t expect any visitors.

Can I blame them? We’re all just hoping someone enters us in different ways. Me, my heart; them, their vape. What is love if not someone who’s willing to let you blow smoke in their face. I’m writing as if it’s for myself, yet all I want is to have someone cover the page with a vaped cloud of passionfruit or whatever-the-fuck causes my words to erase. I’m speaking, or writing, in hopes that someone will listen, or at the very least get hooked on the nicotine that I’m giving. Like all the refs from here to Cuba chewing tobacco on the mound just to remind themselves of home, it seems that the only time anyone is okay with the world pushing them out of place is when for at least one moment, one hour, one mouthful, one lick, one bite, and one date, they also get to control what they taste.