i. the splash of cool water against the
back of your knee. the wooden railing
rough under your fingers. her laughter,
nestled in your throat. her laughter, a
punch in your stomach. she’s laughing
because of him, not you. you know this.
a girl who loves a straight girl can only
ever stand on the sidelines.
this is a lesson you have been taught
all your life.
ii. the back of a movie theatre, her hand
in yours. her skin is warm, and you find
yourself thinking that if the sun were a
person it would feel like her. she leans
her head on your shoulder and you know
that she won’t ever feel the same way, but
you let yourself pretend anyway.
you pretend, just for that moment, that if
you turned your head and kissed her she
would kiss you back.
iii. your pounding heart. the confession.
i like girls too, you say, and you’re crying,
and she’s got her arms around you, and she’s
saying that this changes nothing, and she’s
telling you that she’s here for you, that
she’ll always be here for you.
you want to tell her more; you want to tell
her how you feel like you again when she’s
around, but you hold your tongue.
iv. her voice in your ear saying i love you.
your voice (disjointed, far away, quiet)
saying it back. you don’t say: you love me,
yes, but not the way i love you. you can’t
say it. you won’t say it.
when she tells you about him you laugh and
listen, you smile and help her, you bite your
tongue until you draw blood and say
yes, he sounds wonderful.
v. a girl who loves a straight girl can only
ever stand on the sidelines, anyway.
you know this, you do.
— Darshana Suresh, standing on the sidelines (prompt: jealousy)