1. July. “Aubrey Graham” by Surabhi Kanga

I think my hands are older than the rest of my body. They are wrinkled in strange places, as if all the corrosion from a decade of nicotine rests carefully between the tips of my fingers and my bony wrist. They’re crooked too, with the age of a small, old woman that I sometimes think is me. A soul as old as the tree in my mother’s backyard, and just as bent. As old as the crack in the china cup from my favorite tea set, with the little pink flowers and gold lines. A tiny river, flowing weakly down the side of the little handle, branching off into smaller estuaries. Rivers accompanied by forests of stubbed cigarettes and broken marriages. I took that tea set against my mother’s wishes, after she was far too… gone, I should say. I brought it home and put a kettle on. I stood and watched the water boil, the tea leaves morbidly dancing, the leaking color making it look like the heat was draining their life force, when in fact they had been dead a long time. The fumes made spirals; my hair stood on end from the moisture and the anticipation. I stood there long after the smell of eucalyptus leaves had faded from the memory of the air.

Drake played softly, ironically in the background.

Before Drake, I always felt uneasy with the way people found themselves in artists, in people they had never met, that they couldn’t know. I never understood it. I stood in front of canvases and surrounded myself with words, but I couldn’t hear myself think. I spent years trying to breathe. And then one day, I found him, gleaming through the banality of internet radio. He sang, but I heard only serene water washing over hot coal. Drake can make anything sound like a love ballad. Drake finds love in the lipstick stains on a glass as often as he finds it in body glitter and metal poles; he finds love and doesn’t put it on a pedestal. I imagine we would sit in the booth of a diner with red leather seats and not talk. We would lower our eyes in the harsh white light, we wouldn’t speak for fear of not being able to rise above the cacophony of happiness around us. We would eat apple pie, drink coffee, and not finish either. He would sign the checks not Drake but Aubrey, and it would make me want to smile. We would keep coming back to the same diner. I would never have to say it, but he would know it was because there was a little pink and gold flower on the corner of their menus. And he would never order the tea even though he loved it.

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