By Akshara Taraniganty

“what?” you ask, laughing, 

finger pads brushing up against each other,

fall wind in our hair. i answer

with my head faced forward at the pavement

covered with red-orange leaves. 

“i can’t remember when i last had someone.”

you hold my hand. we swing it back and forth, 

back and forth as we walk to starbucks.

i order an iced oat milk latte, 

and you laugh at the stereotype. we trade

sips, stories, and secrets—your plastic cat ears

bob up and down when you talk; 

your extra pair sits on my head. you ask, 

“when’s the last time you trick-or-treated?”

and we count off the years on our fingers. 

sixth grade, i answer, as we finish our drinks.


afterward, your hand is insistent in mine. you say,

“i know a spot.” when we reach, you stop so suddenly

that your arms cushion me from a crash.

we lean in, periwinkle sky and caressing winds.

perfection doesn’t exist, 

green-eyed beautiful girls who kiss you

behind a starbucks on halloween don’t exist. 

our intertwined fingers force me to trust. 


“it’s been good.” music turned to half-volume,

hands missing your touch. you turn your car

onto my street; fourth-graders in their costumes

run rampant with a carelessness i buried

with the rest of my soul. witches and ghosts 

and two girls in hoodies and plastic cat ears. 

after today, it hurts to concede. i breathe in, 

then turn to you and your shining emerald eyes.


half an hour later, dressed in old white bedsheets,

we ring our first doorbell.