Daily life splinters. We only see him, the body next to us. He has opened his apartment so we do not have to quarantine alone.
We recall images. A boarded up movie theatre with the words BLACK LIVES MATTER spray-painted across, a sunset from a roof, a woman yelling at a cashier on the day of the reopening, 1,000 marching pairs of legs.
We imagine the noises of Manhattan on a good day: horns, fuck yous, four languages in a subway car. Now they are virtual or in protest or both. Social media requires our attention.
We are on guard: have we been dragged out by a rip tide?
We pool our stimulus checks. We hear that 1.4 billion dollars have been sent to the dead. Another bungle, we agree. We say: we’ll donate to organizations. We’ll help, we promise. We open the door to people who have stories to tell but deliver our groceries instead, gloved and masked. We tip them, ungloved and unmasked.
We throw our fists into the air. We shout, NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, until we are tired and go home.
In bed we lie next to him. His ear has been ringing all day from spring allergies, but he did not ask to leave the protest until we did first.
He tells us of the girl in high school who said he could not be attractive because he is brown. Now on her Instagram stories, she is one of us. An ally. We feel the tug of the rip tide.
“You should confront her,” we say. “She is the very definition of hypocrisy!”
He says, “Maybe she is growing.”
We do not know what to say to this. We feel suddenly that the rip tide has already passed, and we are out at sea. We want him to save us, or to tell us how to save ourselves, but we notice his eyes are trained somewhere else. We look where he is looking. We want to see what he sees.