poison the well

They say the water went bad back home, just before the holidays, and I thought of all the times we went out on the lake together, just the two of us in that shitty paddle boat. I thought of watching the sunset, of that time the cat caught a carp in for us. Of foggy Novembers, of icy winter winds, of bright beautiful tulips in the spring and big green apples in August.

Remember that?

It's not like that anymore. All the streets are different now, all our old hangouts are gone, and when they told me the water'd been poisoned, well, hadn't it been poisoned a long time ago? Because I thought of other things too: visiting a restaurant, holding hands like it wasn't important, even though it was. I thought of all the dirty looks, the lectures about how "our kind" are ruining society--and the whispers they thought we couldn't overhear. Of staying up drinking coffee until 3 am and then, as we walked home, all the laughter dying with a single shouted comment from a passing car. Of holding you in my arms as you cried and telling you it's not all bad, it's not all bad.

I'm still not sure if I was wrong to tell you that. Sometimes, when I go back, it's so peaceful, and for a moment I wonder why I left. It never lasts, of course, because memory's a tricky thing.

I've got friends now who don't know what it was like, growing up at home. I tell them stories, of course, and maybe they get some of the picture, but I don't think I tell it right. You always had more of a gift with that sort of thing. I want to tell them: there's beauty there, there's decent folk there. It doesn't make everything okay, it doesn't make me any less of a stranger there, but it's not all bad. If they knew you they'd understand. It can't be all bad if you came out of there.

Sometimes I think about taking them home, but I can't do that now because the water's been poisoned. There's no home left to go back to.

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