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Chasing Sunlight

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I hear crickets outside and I walk to the door without my shoes, the grass is cold when I step on it, damp like morning but the sun isnt up yet. The night smells thick like heat and wet and honeysuckle everywhere, weighing down on me until I cant breathe. I just keep walking to the barn anyway, the dirt and hay bits stick to my feet.

I climb up to the loft. The ladder creaks but it isnt too loud, cant be too loud nobody can hear, the hay is scratchy and gets under my shirt, there's dirt between my toes. I try to brush it off but my hands are dirty too.

Soft laughter in the night, they steal inside like thieves, he touches her shoulder and she smiles, takes his hand, puts it on her breast through the fabric of her dress but I lay down behind the hay so I cant see anymore.

She laughs and sighs and smiles so bright I can see it even when I'm not looking.

Caddy smiled like the sun she ran away but I chased I always chased she led me into the barn and up the ladder when I caught her I saw her skirt was torn her knees were red and little bits of hay stuck to them.

you hurt yourself

no Im fine

let me see it, stop it, let me see

I said Im fine Quentin

did you fall when we were at the river bank, I didnt see you fall, why didnt you say

its fine I told you

let me let me Caddy let me

Let me Caddy he says but it sounds wrong, she makes funny little noises that sound like maybe she's dying but I know she's not. He's panting like when we run out of breath chasing Benjy out by the woods. My hand clenches against my leg and I bite my lip too hard, my mouth tastes copper bitter.

Oh god Caddy he says and my hand moves to my thigh. I repeat the refrain with him, mouth moving to make the shape of her name, but no sound comes out.

She didnt make a sound as I pressed the edge of my shirt against the blood on her knee her fingers clutched at my arm her nails dug into my skin like needles but I kept patting at the red, patpatpatpat, I wanted it to be clean again Mother hates when Caddy isnt clean.

I think its better now

but you spoiled your shirt Quentin I told you not to

dont worry if I tuck it in like this you cant even see

She smiled at me like honey roses sunshine happiness I touched her cheek there was a smear of dirt and I wiped it clean. Her blood on my shirt was cold where it touched my skin I got some on my hands.

My hand feels too big and I picture it smaller, delicate. I imagine the scent of roses. She is breathing hard now, so am I so I bury my face in my arm. The hay tickles me and its her fingers, he moans and its my voice.

I feel something inside me come apart but she puts it back together with a sigh. She says his name but I only hear QuentinQuentinQuentin. I imagine her smile and its just for me.

My hand is wet, sticky bits of hay on it just like Caddy's knees, I hear them leaving but I cant move. I want to fall asleep here but my hand is sticky and the hay is itchy and the sun's rising soon.

The grass is still wet, my shirt's untucked and there's hay in my hair, I hear the cock begin to crow. When I'm in my room and the doors shut I go to the window. The sun makes shadows around the barn but I see her walking barefoot back from the road. Her hair has a halo, there are stains on her dress and she chews on a piece of grass. She looks up and sees me watching her out the window and she smiles. When I smile back it feels wrong but she doesnt stop smiling. The sun gets in my eyes. I cant see her anymore but I dont stop looking.

Caddy smiled like the sun she ran away but I chased.

I always chased.