On his 12th birthday, she asked him if he wanted to play doctor.
They snuck into the basement and she made him undress.
She pressed her lips to his chest and told him he had a heart murmur.
Surgery wouldn’t be required, but he’d have to stop
falling in love with strangers for at least two weeks.
For his 14th birthday, she wanted to play house.
Again, she told him to undress and they climbed
under a sheet of canvas, matted with old paint.
He couldn’t quite get comfortable no matter
how they twined the puzzles of their limbs.
She said this is how their lives would become.
When she turned 16, she invited him to a party
at her parent’s house and kissed him next to the lake
while her family was calling her to blow out the candles.
Then she kicked him in the shin and couldn’t stop giggling.
On prom night, she told him she wanted to make love.
She had paid for a room already, watched him undress,
then walked up to him and pressed her lips to his chest,
before telling him the heart murmur had gotten worse,
and this time, surgery couldn’t be avoided.
There was no other way to be sure.