We lay in the sheets naked. “I like you a lot,” you said to me. I stopped you. “You still do?” You nodded. I love you too bubbled in my throat, and I kissed you to stifle it again. This was the closest we’ve ever come to perfection.
Dating. A strange place to cram an easy thing like love into. It wrapped and sealed us in so that we could not see anymore through the plastic. We could only see each other, each other’s shadows. The light entering from the top helped us cast each other’s shadows. But we must never have looked up because all we saw was shadows. Dreadful spaces of black, smeared against our walls. Eventually, you became my ghost. I was ashamed of you. I missed you.
I came back to you yesterday. Your eyes lit up like fireworks when you saw me. I counted the steps it took you to find me through the crowd in your apartment and waited for you to come to me after every pause in conversation. I searched for you although you were not far. From the corner of my eye, I kept an eye on you. Your ears, your back, your eyes. Your eyes, still and insistent as you talk, peering behind your glasses. I missed you. The dress I wore was solely for you. “Like 20 presents in one,” I joked with Jane about the pink bows peppering the fabric.
You had 20 choices. In my view, you had 20 and more. All you had to do was look for them. Find them. Make us work. You weren’t ready. I was idealistic. I wanted it all, not a compromise or our happiness pressed between walls. I wanted you, whole and complete. You didn’t see it. You missed it along with the 20 other little crumbs along the path that would have led you to the answer. And as the sun grew heavy and the shadows stretched out longer on the road, you chose your answer. There, in the weariness of sunsets, you came up with the best that you could do.
Your way led us to a safe, familiar place. A bed. A sheet. A few guests lingering in the living room, wondering whether you’d come out again or whether they should go. She’s back, their whispers rose and reached your ears as I entered again, alone this time, without my friends. I left them in that crowded bar. I needed to find you. Your bows were all around me, 20 drawings stuffed down my throat, all identical, all around my body, waiting for your hands. You took me in your hands then, you lay me down in bed and tucked me in. I was drunk on memory, and you took care of me. I waited for you to return. There in the darkness, I whispered to you. Reviens. Come back, come back, come back. You heard me.
This morning, I wasn’t surprised to be naked. I always felt my best when I was naked near you. I still do. Guilt replaced by giddiness, I laughed and pinched your nipple. You let out a scream then, and though I wanted to laugh and hug you, I said I was sorry. Compassion. I missed you. I wanted you to know. I wanted to practice what I didn’t then, wanted to see how it is to nurture a person rather than his shadows. Wild and sincere, my reactions shed light on your actions. I finally spoke my mind.
We went on like that until 2. You wanted to get up earlier, but I reached out to you again. I put aside my pride for you, and you listened. We are too close. We shouldn’t do this, you said. We should stop. Do you want me to move then? You didn’t speak. But your eyes, round and insistent as the white space enclosed in the ink of an “o”, said it all. It was like us, really, that manner in your eyes then … you and me, enclosed in a space of wonder, a pause out of life for a few seconds or hours. It was the best you’ve done all along, almost canceling out the fact that it’s over.