By Miranda Michalowski
In this version of what happens you have fallen from a tree.
You have hurt your ankle
and I am telling you we don’t need to call the ambulance.
We don’t need to call because you are in the business of exaggerating.
So I take you home and we drink hot chocolate
and watch a reality show that I hate.
You hate it too, but you’re more stubborn.
The gap between the cushions is a crater.
It has teeth.
In another version, we have both climbed up.
Girl 1 and Girl 2 sitting in a tree,
First comes love -love?
You’re getting ahead of yourself.
First comes lip, then hand, then hip, then a ringing phone.
Then comes you, shaking.
No, not like that. Pay attention.
Someone is calling an ambulance.
You’re telling this man and his daughter that you aren’t pretending.
It’s 6 minutes away.
Your ankle is purple.
You haven’t lied since kindergarten.
Now it’s just the two of us under the tree.
Nobody has fallen.
Neither of us has ever even broken a bone.
We’re too tender to risk things like that.
You’re telling me how you used to read the Magic Faraway Tree,
and you always wished you could
climb up there and meet Moonface.
I am laughing at the thought of you
fantasising about a man with a face like the moon.
You’re telling me I laugh too much.
You’re telling me I ruin everything.
Your face is a circle under the streetlights.
Now I am climbing up the tree.
It has grown taller, somehow.
Like one of those diving boards at the local pool
that never looks scary from beneath.
But once you’re up there, your legs are jelly,
the world is jelly
and everything is easily squashed.
You’re telling me to jump now,
telling me you’ll catch me like a firefighter.
But we both know you failed PE,
and I want to go back to the kissing part.
Jump, you’re saying. I’ll catch you.
So I leap,
like an animal ready to be caught.
But my face, my knees, and elbows graze,
and the grass isn’t as soft as you promised.
You’re kissing my face better now.
You’ll get blood on your lip.
This isn’t pretend anymore.
Mirandą Michalowski (she/her) is a Sydney-based writer with a passion for queer and feminist stories. She is currently completing her Honours thesis on representations of female coming-of-age in contemporary theatre. Her poetry is forthcoming in Moon Cola, Red Ogre Review, and Many Nice Donkeys.