How I ended up in the sunshine state, I'll never really know for sure, but looking at the woman standing on the balcony in her powder blue undies and my tee shirt, I knew for damned sure why I stayed for so long.
We lived in a pink hued summer drinking cheap whiskey and watching the world go on. Miami held new promise, a new sun peeking over the horizon and spillin' in through the cracks in the thick curtains of our motel room. Palm trees and white sand, horrible traffic on I4 and tequila soaked sunsets. She loved the beach, and I loved her. Weekdays were always the lazy kind of days, lounging by the barely used swimming pool or curled up in bed, legs tangled, hands in each other or pizza boxes. We'd watch television or porn, sleep for hours, and then at night we'd drink and slow dance without music until we fell back into bed, Polaroid photos of us scattered across the floor. Weekends, we'd work, but I'd catch her glancing at me from the bar, and she'd know I was singing my songs just for her, as if it was an audience of one.
Grace lived in color so bright it was almost hard to look at her sometimes. She'd see a dog and instantly start crying and wanting to pet it. Every shitty bouquet of flowers from the gas station I got her, she thought were the prettiest pieces of shit she'd ever seen. When I told her she looked nice, she got this crooked little smile on her lips, a lopsided grin that tugged at my heartstrings and played a killer bass. As we fucked, she would make this little sighing sound, sweet as honey and light as air, and then she'd climb up top and play mountaineer, conquering every piece of me like a virgin Everest.
I met her three months ago at the bar I was singing in. Bullshit little hole in the wall, but they had a good crowd. G was bartending, and she shot whiskey like a fucking champ. After close, the band was packing up, and she was closing down the bar. Night ended as you'd expect: hiked up skirt, yanked down panties, and a quickie in the backseat of her car. But, God, she was wild and fun. Alive and carefree. She'd left her home in Minnesota for molten summers and perfect falls, and I couldn't help but love someone who believed in herself that much.
She domesticated me for a hot minute. Maybe it was how she knew just how to make me feel like I mattered. Or maybe it was the electric sex. Or maybe it was just how uncannily comfortable we were with each other, but for three months, we've played house. And we were so good at it, I almost believed it for a second. It wasn't until this morning, watching Grace lean against the peeling railing, smoking a Marlboro Red that I knew it was over. She had this disappointed look on her face and a wrinkle between her brows I'd only ever seen when she was cumming or pissed off at a bar guest.
"Who is Hope?" She asks, so softly I can't even really be sure she actually said the name, "You called me Hope last night."
The silence that follows her question is almost as deafening as the mockingbird singing in a tree nearby and the gulls flying over the sea, a sweet whisper in the back of my mind along with the sound of Hope's lace underwear murmuring against her skin as I pulled it off. Grace is sipping on her cigarette, looking like she regretted every moment she had spent with me. I don't have anything to say to her anymore, and I wake up from the hazy, pink summer dream that I'd been living in the past three months.
She nods once, twice, and puts the cigarette out on the railing, flicking the butt into the dead grass below. The colorful girl turns around and gives me a look that says everything I'm not saying, and then Grace is easing herself out of my shirt, out of my life. She packs her things and leaves, and I leave the Polaroids behind.