(16/32) “Carmine used to keep a blanket in the back of his convertible. Some nights, instead of going home, we’d pick up two sandwiches from Smiley’s and take them out to Central Park.  We’d lay the blanket out in Sheep’s Meadow and have sex.  Then we’d just sit there talking until the sun came up. One night I was telling him a story about the only vacation I’d ever been on. My mother had taken me to Cape Cod to visit my ‘long lost Uncle Pete.’  It was really just some guy she was fucking on the side—but I got a free trip out of the deal.  When I finished telling him the story, Carmine turned to me and said: ‘Do you want to go now?’ I thought he was making a joke, so I kinda laughed. But he got real serious and asked me again. We ran back to his convertible and drove all night. We didn’t have a hotel or anything. We just laid our blanket out on the beach and waited for the sun to come up. We were the only two people out there. And I don’t know why, but I started telling him things that I’d never told anyone before. I told him all the things I’d been hiding from everyone else. I told him about my mother. And how she used to beat me. And how I still dreamed about her screaming at me. I told him about the pregnancy. And the prison time. And I told him that when I’m all alone, sometimes I feel like I don’t even exist. When I was finished talking, I looked over, and I kinda expected him to not be there anymore. But he was still right there. We watched the sun come up over the ocean. I’d never seen anything like it before. I’d seen it in pictures, but I’d never really seen it. The water was the same color as the sky. Carmine had his arm around me, and I think it might have been the happiest I’d ever felt in my life.”

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