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And Then He Got Squished photo

Last summer everyone was wrestling. Claudia started it. She said It’s been so long since I touched someone and threw Tobias on the ground. His girlfriend Marley started laughing. Look at that! she said, and we all sat around with our beers. Then Marley started dancing really fast, pointing her toes together and then pointing them apart. She was wearing this short black dress and when I looked up at her dancing I saw her butt. Then Claudia tackled her, too, and Jan. And then Bird tackled all of them, and then I joined in. I got Marley eventually, pinned her down. She looked so happy, with her small teeth poking out from her lips. 

We didn’t stop after that. We had so much fun. We’d meet at the soccer field or at Jan’s mom’s and walk around to the back. And everyone knew it was going to start at some point. It was like going to a sex party, or something: you just knew it was going to start. You kept looking at each other, over your beers, giggling. 

We started learning moves and everything. Bird had been on the wrestling team and I remember him teaching me how to take someone down. He had me grab behind his knee and push my head into his hip. It felt cool, like I was so close to him without it being weird or shady or something. I remember looking up at him, and he was looking down at me, with his shaggy, sandy hair. But it wasn’t sex I felt, it was something else completely. Like he was going to be my friend forever.

Claudia and Jan and me were talking about moving further out that summer. Claudia hated living in Williamsburg with a bunch of advertising snobs. Jan hated living with her mom. I kind of liked where I lived, but I lived with Cole and we’d kind of realized it wasn’t going to last, suddenly, the week he went to Florida. So it was kind of sad to go to the grocery store and buy chicken or whatever and then just sit there and talk about whatever. 

So we were thinking of moving to a big house in Sheepshead Bay, one of those mafia places with flaking white columns and Astroturf hedges. We’d take the B all the way and look at listings, buy weird yogurt at the Turkish store, walk around the old gyms and insurance offices. We’d start talking about whether they had a good floor for wrestling, like some study with carpet or an old garage with cork, and the old Russian ladies showing us around would say, Sign? Sign now?

But anyway, we didn’t end up moving. Jan ended up going back to school, so she needed to save money. Claudia ended up moving in with a guy in Jersey City, I slept over once. They had big windows you could see Manhattan from, they were bright blue in the morning, like a computer screen. Bird died on his motorcycle, and when Claudia called me, I thought she was fucking with me and I started laughing. It was the sort of joke Bird would pull, to tell Claudia Tell her I died. I started yelling Bird, shut the fuck up. The last thing they’d done, that night, was watch Narcos, she kept telling me We watched fucking Narcos, we watched fucking Narcos and then Bird got squished. And then I got a cold that didn’t seem to go away for weeks and weeks, and Cole cheated on me with a girl who’d called me Rat Ears in high school, and it got cold by the bay, colder and colder, and no one wanted to go there anymore.


image: Ann Manov