Sardinia, Italy, sitting on a girl’s bed with an Italian-English dictionary open between us. She was eighteen. I was a year older. She lived with her Grandma, next door to my friend’s father. I was just visiting. My friend: we were supposed to be moving to California. But our friendship was imploding. I’d been leaning out the window, talking to the girl next door about all of this, in clumsy, halting Italian. She invited me over. It took a long time to translate the story of my derailed friendship into Italian, word by word. And it took another long time to uncover the fact she was a gifted French horn player, but her grandmother wouldn’t let her move to the mainland to follow that dream. Every snippet of understanding was a triumph. A giggling, relieved epiphany. Within a month, I would be in California, alone, accidentally stuck in a cult compound. I don’t know what became of Marina. Having painstakingly conquered the language barrier, she asked me to translate some Queen lyrics for her, and declared a fervent, undying love for Freddie Mercury. Queen was a life line. She didn’t know he preferred men. And she didn’t know he was dead. I couldn’t…I copied the lines to be translated into my diary, and she kissed them. It’s still there: that lipstick kiss. Empty spaces, what are we living for? Abandoned places, I guess we know the score. Does anybody want to take it anymore?