We shared our first kiss beneath his adopted baby brother’s blanket,
the brother his parents returned before their divorce a few weeks later.
He gave me my first pet name in the 7th grade, but that was after
we played guitar in his basement with the lights off, before
he left without telling me good-bye.
Three summers later, he found me drowning in a Sugar Run lake
with an anchor of whiskey and gin fishhooked at my ankles.
I was his first.
The wildflowers he left in my garage wilted in motor oil,
but the ones he sent after I was discharged from the hospital
remained tokens on my vanity throughout junior year.
I stayed alive because of him.
On Christmas Eve, I weaved a bracelet of pearls around his wrist.
Bottles of Old Fezziwig Ale and New Castle chimed in the kitchen
when I told him I had to go, and the lights on the tree
flickered as I showed him my back without a spine.
He did not follow me.
I wonder if he is happy, too.
Still I taste saltwater when I hear our song.
A Pushcart Prize nominee and a two-time Best of the Net nominee, Amber D. Tran is the Editor-in-Chief for the Cold Creek Review literary journal. Her work has been featured in Calliope, After the Pause, Spry Literary Journal, Cheat River Review, and more. Her award-winning debut novel, Moon River, was released in September 2016. She can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using @amberdtran.