The nights here are so loud, even after all of the children have gone to bed. Every noise we make in this room, I feel travels, awakens everyone. Lacey is the loudest; my sister has never understood how to whisper. Katie seems to think it is okay, so sure that we cannot be heard. I am not so sure. Her house is open, with high ceilings. How can every sound that escapes through the crack beneath the door not echo to the ends of the Earth and back?
She laughs, too loudly I think. “Got you, Arman! I think I may win this one,” she says, somewhat distractedly as she tries to steer her red corvette around a protesting police cruiser.
“Whatever. I lapped you last time, little girl, and I’m not about to give you my winning streak,” I retort, content that we are speaking to each other, that we are sharing anything, even the exchange of words.
“Little? I’ll be able to vote in two months! Four years older is hardly anything. You’ll pay for this, Arman. You’ll pay in blood.” She cuts her eyes at me quickly as she speaks, before gluing them back to the television. I feel a rush of excitement in her mock anger. I laugh, smile, and say something to anger her, to distract her from the game. She only giggles and blushes slightly.
At some point, while she is talking to Lacey, her foot brushes against mine. I hold still, hoping she can’t feel it, savoring the warmth and closeness of our skin, but she snatches it away, apologizing. She will never know, I think. She will never know, and I will never let her find out. She’s better than that, and my thoughts will die one day. I will kill them, starve them. I will not feed her to them, only pictures of her, only my mental images that will fade one day.
Lacey breaks my thoughts, cackling. “I beat you both! Suck it! How does it feel? I won. Yeah. I won.” She stands up, and began to dance around the room.
“I got second,” Katie adds, jumping up to join the very bizarre victory dance.
“Damnit,” I say, shaking my head in exaggerated disappointment. My sister and cousin stop their dancing and jumping for a few second, to blow simultaneous raspberries in my face. I laugh it off. She is so cute when she acts up, when she wins, when she thinks how good she is. I am distracted for a moment, wondering how good she actually is, before I remind myself how disgusting I am. If anyone could see into my minds, they would be sickened.
She is your cousin, I tell myself. She may not be blood-related, but it is the same as if she were. Even through my arguments with myself, I know she will haunt me tonight, and I know, despite my admonishment to myself, I know I will chase her. I will try to quench my thirst for her tonight, and I will fail, once again.
We leave the room at eleven. Lacey and Stuart and I have one last day here. Tomorrow must be a good one, because the day after, we must leave when the other children go to school. It is time for us to go home again. It will be a good thing for me, to leave her, but it will hurt more than it did the first time.
I should take a shower now – a cold one. I need to wash, to calm myself. I burn for her, in the night brimming with sound and my fire must be dulled, but the sound of water in the pipes will wake the house. I am consumed by thoughts of her. Flames lick me; biting, burning, but I must fight it out myself, alone. She can never know; she is too young, innocent. My own dirt must not stain her, must not dull the brightness of the purity in the curiosity behind her eyes. The night is loud now, but I should have taken a cold shower when I had the chance. Now more noises will be added to this loud night.