Glimmering in the dawn’s waking hours, dust dancers come to rest with the wind on the cardboard city, catching on the trails of pulled back packing tape below the new layer. Ridges and creases cast shadow scars across the faces of the boxes, rising and falling like heartbeats; white curtains caress the wind in gentle, cold breaths of morning. Black sharpie scrawls out your name. As I begin shifting within the large chair, my bones cringe, my skin separating from the weaving of my afghan. I pull it closer to my face, hiding away from the crinkled tower; vainly murmuring my reminder that even faded boxes will die.
You had a blindness for the moon—I could even say your chest exploded when the blue light cast itself across the tree branches, the stars peeking between the fragile fingers of the earth. The night was your home, when things dissolved and became clear together in those gradients of hues. Your blue dress shirt had hung half open, a white undershirt following your chest. Holding onto one of the pale buttons, I took a step closer as your head dropped towards mine, the warm air pocket between our shirts closing as we breathed slowly. I had never danced on the cool soil of night; I was a day dancer, yet your eyes told me the dark was more freeing.
Spring mornings woke me with mist and air of new grass, and sometimes your smile as the light washed into our room. Sleep spiked hair fell away from my fingers as your freckled face rolled over to see the window. The careful pad of your feet across the weathered floorboards followed you to the window where the curtains fell around you like faded wings.
My chest catches as the shadow of noon passes over the window frame, casting a grid of light across my face; it burns, and I can feel the red of my cheeks. Your wings lay still, the smell of cardboard leaking across the room as the boxes bake. I lean below the light, cooling my cheeks with my palms, peeking between my fingers as I trace the dark letters with my eyes. If I had written, “you’re beautiful” on your wrists, would you have believed me? Would noon have felt like less of an eternity from each morning? You used to say I was peppered with sun—freckled cheeks, freckled eyes, freckled heart. Would it have helped to know you were peppered with star freckles, armored with moments from your midnight home?
The dimming of the day finally reaches my skin, and my fingers tangle around my golden band as I pass it over each finger. The shadows run blue and soft over the corners of the boxes, my handwriting slowly fading. My breath stops as the taste of night air bounds past the curtains, settling the dust dancers onto their cardboard perches. Shuddering, I wrap myself in the afghan, but I can’t feel your warm breath or your smile. The glint of last night’s tape over the box seams glares at me, bounding over the layered nights tallied in ripped back tape. Standing, my legs shake as I shuffle to the boxes, the pad of your footstep echoing in the chambers of my heart as I near the tower. My body screams at the touch of cardboard, the memory or your eyes sending my clenched fist back as the sound of separating tape racks the silence. My vision dissolves as my fingers wrap around the familiar curve of a pale button, the smell of your warmth leaving my chest clenched yet exploding. Maybe we weren't designed to capture the feeling of flying or dying, but we still do. The boxes still do. I never was a walker of the night, but I danced for you. I relapse for you.
I’ll wake in the morning wrapped in your blue dress shirt, looking for your star freckles, and look to your faded wings that hang around the picture of morning. And with dying flight, I will layer another night on the seam of the boxes, and I’ll whisper to myself that someday those feelings will fade. But until then, sharpie in hand, my broken fingers will still write your name.