Knowing by Lita Kurth

NASA

We’re walking, Birdy and I, past the big L-B campus, a high-tech company whose IPO minted hundreds of millionaires, ruining housing prices for everyone else. All large buildings seem to be named after them now: L-B Stadium, L-B Opera House, L-B School of Business at the Jesuit university five miles down the highway.

Birdy doesn’t know the future. At least in the two months I’ve known her, I see no sign that she knows—though I admit signs can be hard to interpret. I’m the one who knows the future, only the big outlines and immediate events, not the decisions in between. One thing’s for sure: Birdy doesn’t know how much I know.

“I’m going to buy some of that L-B stock,” Birdy peers through the iron gates at the sleek rock fountain and long green lawn.

“I wouldn’t,” I say. Within two years, I see a For Lease sign on that gate.

“You’re always so sure,” Birdy complains. “I hate that you’re always right.”

I take her hand, and we walk over the bridge by the near-dry creek. Sweet-smelling mimosa leans over the water with its pink froth of blossoms. Birdy will let me kiss her here, I know, but still my heart beats faster. Her lips are so soft.

I know, yes, she’ll sleep with me tonight (but she won’t come), and even after that kiss, the night to come tortures me. I don’t know if we’ll marry and have kids, apparently not soon, but I can see seventy years down the road when we’re both dead, and believe it or not, a million years after that when no one will be left to know we ever lived.

The smoggy sunset spreads its purple, pink, and orange over the west and even parts of the east. I stand with my arm around Birdy, hip to hip, caressing her side. At least I have this, right now. Let me stay with it.

“Do you ever wonder if the sun will go out?” Birdy says softly.

“Not really,” I say.

“I’m surprised,” she says sardonically, then touches my arm.

“I’m a know-it-all,” I say. “I know.” The sun has already gone out, but I don’t tell her this. We’re safe. That end will be a long time coming.

At my house, we get into bed, and I want to do everything different from how I’d planned. But how can I delete the long massage with scented oil? How can that be a bad idea? I want so badly to evade the approaching failure. Everything about her warm, exquisite body and her sweet soul makes me tremble. I am lost, lost, and I forget to plan or avoid planning. After I come, and she doesn’t, I slide down.

“No, no, I always think men don’t like it,” she protests.

“Yes, yes,” I say, “It tastes like vanilla ice cream.” I surprise myself because she’s right. I usually don’t like it. A few minutes later, she jolts forward and cries out.

I’m so happy tears come to my eyes. I kiss the inside of her hip. “Love you.”

“I know.” She bends her head to give me a triumphant look.

And what I will do with a girl like that, I just don’t know.


Lita Kurth received her MFA from Pacific Lutheran University and has published work in three genres. Her CNF, “Pivot,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her CNF “This is the Way We Wash the Clothes,” presented at the Working Class Studies conference, 2013, won the 2014 Diana Woods Memorial Award (summer-fall 2014) and appeared in Lunchticket 2014. She teaches private workshops online and in her living room (Lita Kurth Writing Workshops on Facebook).

She contributes to Tikkun.org/tikkundaily, TheReviewReview.net, and classism.org.

In 2013, she co-founded the Flash Fiction Forum, a reading series in San Jose.