These boys want me to pat their heads, play with their hair, and tuck them into bed. They want me to take care of them. They do not want to take care of me.
I exist to them in the places I do not inhabit. Places I will never inhabit, not totally. He rocks back and forth, swatting away mosquitoes in his humid apartment. The smell of dirty water and trucks full of fish leak through the open window. He is thinking of me. Me lying in tiny flowered boxers in his bed. Me with my shirt sticky with river sweat. My goosebumped skin turning cold after he made a place for me in his shoulder. His lips brushing against my forehead. Sleeping there, for a few seconds, like they were too tired to do anything but purse on my brow.
They search for me in the crowd at their shows. I am not there. They lie alone in their beds and wonder what I am up to. They message me every so often. When they’re bored. When they’re tired. When they’ve been inside for a few days and already watched all the television they’d like. The absence of me sits down beside them. Keeps them warm. Curls up into their chests and asks them politely to please turn the volume down.
I am not there. I never will be. But they know me like this, as an idea, a concept, a thing that they created out of some conceptualized version of my skin, my bones, the framework of my Self. They know me like this. But never as I am. Never as I want to be.”