(Excerpt from No Man’s Brooklyn.)
What are we gonna do with ourselves Daniel?
Like right now?
Like ever. Are you gonna go to college?
I don’t know, but I don’t think so.
Why you’re smart?
I hate school. You know what Mark Twain said?
There’s nothing wrong with school, just don’t let it get in the way of your education.
Ooooh, I like that. That’s a good one. Well whatever you do you’ve got your stories. You’re going to be a famous writer aren’t you?
I don’t know.
Well I do. And you’re going to be. Trust me. I know these things. I may not know what . . . what was that word again?
Petulant. I may not know what petulant means but I know you’re gonna be a famous writer. World famous. And I’ll say I knew you when. Remember how you used to put me in some of your stories? Do you still do that?
Good. Keep writing about me okay?
Anything you want. Just include me in your stories. Don’t forget about me. Write whatever you want. Write about the time your crazy friend Anya came to the schoolyard at three o’ clock on a Saturday with a bottle of stolen peach brandy and . . . and you and her got drunk together . . . and then . . . and then she kissed you.
She kissed me?
Which is exactly what Anya did.
Her head rose from my shoulder and her mouth pushed into mine. Her tongue snaked past my lips and initiated my tongue. Wagging, jostling, probing, pinning, curling. A sloppy and frenetic tango, a fevered joust.
A part of me stood outside myself, watching, recording, narrating.
You are now kissing Anya and Anya is kissing you. This has never happened before. It is happening now. Notice the slitted dance of her tongue. Notice the peach-heat of her breath in yours. The bulging rhythm of her jaw. Her hand on your cheek. The wet, clicking unity of your mouths. Notice these things. If you pay strict enough attention, if you crystallize with rapt intent, you will always have this moment. It will be yours forever. It will deepen over time. It will grow in value, depth, complexity. You will be able to live and die inside of it repeatedly, endlessly.
Pay good, strict attention.
You are now kissing Anya for the first time, always.