The brain’s neural network invented time travel before any of us could. Its synapses are how I first get back to you. With memory. I think back to my smoke-stained hands in that same place you kept that ridiculous camping knife clipped to your trousers. Your skin as warm and damp as a wet-wood fire. Soft like an underbelly.

We arrived back at the campsite sweaty and caked with earth. Told our wives the motor gave out, that it took hours to paddle back to shore.

The morning after there was a squirrel we saw across the way and fed with sunflower seeds and cashew crumbs. I summoned you there and we fed it together. It was the only way I could get you alone again. I whispered softly to you out the side of my mouth.

The word "squirrel" was passed down through several languages in different forms before it came to us that morning. In Ancient Greek, the rodent was called skiouros, meaning shadow-tailed. It’s incredible how we are all connected that way, through language and passing. The two of us shadow-tailed together. The rush of endorphins and adrenaline, as if we were lifted from the earth by a spacecraft, from the dark place we entered each other’s bodies. Tell me: which of these risings would bring you more shame?

In the photos from that trip, there is one of us feeding the squirrel, taken covertly by one of our wives. We looked so out of place in the woods there. Both of us in khaki pants and Oxford shoes. The knife at your side. A time from before I know only as the after. Heavy and humid and hungry, like the air then.

When the camera clicked, catching us crouched and clumsy-looking, the rodent scurried away and disappeared from view. Not long after, we too disappeared. Our secret in limbo. The two of us burnt onto amber-colored film, reaching toward a void.

Adam Gianforcaro

is a writer living in Wilmington, Delaware. His stories, poems, and essays can be found in Palette Poetry, Okay Donkey, Hobart, HAD, The Cincinnati Review miCRo series, and elsewhere. He was an Honorable Mention in The Maine Review’s 2021 Embody Awards and a winner of Button Poetry’s 2018 Short Form Contest.

All contributions from Adam Gianforcaro

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