You wake me by pushing my head off your chest. It’s too hot, you say, can you sleep in the other room? Your curtains are so thick that it’s impossible to know if the sun’s up or not. Then you turn away from me. I check my phone, it’s too damn early, and I go to the guest bed where I can’t sleep. The blue light has infiltrated my mind, and I’m on Reddit now scrolling through eye bleach, then mouth-popping axolotls, then sketchy Pokémon leaks, and then an abandoned, white-tiled swimming pool deep underground, the water so pristine I hear the siren song to dive in. The last picture is from one of your favorite subreddits that I subscribed to after we started our situationship, it’s your kind of thing, ghost towns and forgotten amusement parks and dilapidated malls, somewhere once filled with so many people living their lives, a great gathering of humanity, now holding only a hush of the wind, the drip of a leaky faucet, you and your heartbeat.
I google liminal spaces and learn that they aren’t strictly abandoned places. Hotels, airports, the hallway between your bedroom and the guest bedroom, liminal spaces are thresholds between the past and the uncertain future. When we eat chocolate-flavored Rice Krispies for breakfast, you agree with me, it’s more than the eerie passage of time, the unsettling transitions society makes, marked by architectures of lost meanings. It’s the present. This is a riddle, you’re testing me on how well I listen, and I say, Tomorrow, let’s go to a liminal space. You play King Harvest’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” and we spin in circles with our arms outstretched. At night, we sleep together and you don’t complain when I press my body against yours. Your alarm rings brightly the next morning and you drive us to an office complex nobody has used in a decade. I pick the lock to a door so we can get inside. You ask, How? Why? When? I shake my head with a small smile and don’t tell you I’m very good at getting into wherever I want.
Inside, you coo and marvel. The air smells stale. The blinds are dusty, the offices shadowed with the presence of bygone silhouettes. I trail behind you as you point out a stack of long-neglected business papers, a broken iMac under a desk, cables that crawl into the ceiling tiles and beyond, connected to what you call a cosmic mystery. You lead me into a lightless basement and we have to turn on our flashlights. There’s a kitchen and we keep bumping into appliances. A system of empty corridors channels into a multitude of yawning conference rooms. The darkness is so black I have trouble finding you even with my flashlight. When you hold your silence too long, my hands shake and my light with them, like a lightbulb in an earthquake about to shatter on the floor. I’m scared, I finally say. And you reply, Don’t be. You throw an arm around my shoulders and I pull us upstairs. It’s dusk, the sunbeams slanting through the blinds in a fiery glory. The doors should be unlocked from the inside, yet we can’t open the first one, or the second, or the third, and there are no locks to pick. We should call the police, I say. But you put your hands over my wrists and ask, Why don’t we stay a little longer?