he used to tease her, call her owl. he said she could see into his soul with those eyes of hers; said it freaked him out, the latter part was true, but only because he was so afraid that one day she’d look right into the space of him that loved her more than anyone else on the planet, that dreamed red dreams of lust and love surrounding them both.
and then there she wasn’t one day. he regretted everything she never saw.
she’s fidgeting in her seat, her heeled foot bouncing impatiently, watching him stand across the restaurant talking on his phone. it’s no emergency, emergencies don’t make you laugh. he glances up at her, smiling at whomever can’t see him on the other end of the line. she glares back; he either doesn’t notice the menace, or doesn’t care. it’s bad enough that he answered a call in the middle of her sentence and didn’t even excuse himself, but to just leave her there? ignore her completely? if she hadn’t already ordered, if this wasn’t her very favorite place in town, she’d get up and leave. and to think, he had so much potential with his handsome darkness and quiet intellect. she flips her long brown hair over her shoulder and quietly hopes he tries to kiss her later so that she can embarrass him.
he cannot stand her. she is pretentious, annoying. he can’t think of one thing that’s come out of her mouth tonight that wasn’t about herself, or her cat, or her what.the.fuck.ever. he had to escape, at least for a few moments. she didn’t notice him navigate to the ringtones on his phone and simulate a phone call. she did however, notice him stand without a word and leave her there, pressing the phone to his ear. here he is, having an imaginary conversation with no one, and it’s much more enjoyable than the past 45 minutes he’s spent trying to fathom how such a massive amount inane drivel could come out of such a petite person. he contemplates walking out, leaving her there to discuss her fascinating existence with his empty chair, or maybe the waiter. he decides against it: he’ll finish the date, drop her off, be rid of her for good.
he returns to the table, neither of them say anything. he is grateful; she is fuming.
“it’s been too long since we’ve gone out, i’m tryna get drunk. call me back bitch!”
she smirks at the message, hits delete, then frowns. it has been a while. they used to have so much fun together, she and the girl with the squeaky voice on her voicemail; the girl she hadn’t seen in so long she’d forgotten her smile.
she’s staying in with her guy, like every night. her friends may hate her, but whatever right? they don’t understand just how good this dick is. if it were theirs they’d never leave the bed - save to order takeout or shower - either. as she sets her phone on the nightstand he runs his finger up the small of her bare back. she shivers involuntarily. he moves his body across the bed, against hers, she feels him pressed into her, she sighs contentedly. turning over, looking into his eyes, running a hand through his soft brown hair, any guilt over ignoring her friends dissipates.
he died when he was six. drowned.
he had been forced into the bath after he’d muddied himself chasing a rabbit underneath the house. when his mother went to load the whites into the washer his twin sister, emmile, held his head under the bath water - not maliciously, but curiously. when his mother returned and saw her firstborn, the ends of her hair wet and arms covered in suds, she knew something was wrong. she pushed past the sullen faced child and saw him, facedown in the water. she let a sound, terrifying and heartbreaking: a cry of pain, or fear, of a mother choking back down the life trying to escape her.
she sobbed as she tried to resuscitate her baby, sobbed more when he began coughing and sputtering, his lips changing from blue to pink as he sucked down air. she clutched him to her, rocking. she looked up at emmile and in that moment, she hated her child. emmile saw it in her eyes, knew it; never forgot it.
emmile blamed him for that for the rest of her life. he outlived her.
she was trouble, and he knew it. only the devil could have a face so sweet, so perfect. he was wary of her, this ethereal creature with her delicate limbs that danced instead of walked, but as she grew into his life, his guard crumbled.
he’d lie in bed counting the freckles sprinkled across her clavicle, holding tufts of her soft hair to his nose and inhaling. he’d tell her she smelled sweet, like a fruit he hadn’t yet tasted. she’d laugh and taunt him saying “well, you’ve tasted me.”
the night she stared at him, her doe eyes cold and unfeeling, and told him that she’d tired of him, of this, of them, he remembered his initial apprehension and hated himself. hated that he was unable to walk away from this devil with the perfectly upturned nose and its tip made for kissing. hated that instead he couldn’t stop the tears from falling, his mouth from begging, his hands from reaching.
it’s been years since i’ve seen her, i wonder if she still looks the same. the last time she updated her myspace page she still did, but that was almost four years ago now.
she was going to reinvent herself, she said, as soon as she left this one horse town. “i’m moving to california” she said, “i’m gonna cut all my hair off and dye it blonde and get tattoos and fake tits and meet a guy that can make me cum from just a kiss and never come back to this mother fucker.”
we’d lay on her bed, surfing the internet, and she had a folder on her desktop filled with pictures of the girls she wanted to emulate. i told her it wasn’t necessary, that was already so pretty. “i know i’m pretty, that’s not the point. the point is to be different.”
“different than what?” i asked.
“different than everyone around here.” she answered.
i had dreams too, but i never really was able to realize them. she left for college, i never graduated. she left me. she called sometimes, in the beginning, she emailed me, at first, but then she stopped. my last few messages went unanswered.
i never got to tell her how much i loved her.
i’m the average american, i guess. here i am, in his country, unable to speak his language. i piece together the words i know, form a fragment of a sentence, try to find out where the hell i am. he smiles. luckily for me, he’s not an average american; he speaks english.
he tells me where i stand, points me to where i need to go. it’s not far, from what he tells me, but i don’t understand. he can tell i’m confused by the look on my face, and laughs. he takes my hand and leads me on, not letting go until we reach my destination.
when we do, he does, and my hand is suddenly cold. it feels strange and empty, as if it’d never been without his ever before.
it had been six months since he’d had a drink, just as long as the accident. he twirled his sobriety chip through his fingertips like a baton as he waited, head down, eyes closed. that night was still murky to him: he remembered walking through the door of his best friend’s birthday party and nothing else.
it didn’t matter now. he knew all he needed to. she was only ten years old, asleep in the backseat of her parent’s car. she never woke up. he hoped that meant she hadn’t felt any pain.
she didn’t believe him when he told her she was beautiful.
growing up in a small town, all the boys that were around were around her entire life. they noticed as little as she did when she blossomed. here she was, her first day in this new city, this huge city, feeling as insignificant as a piece of rice in a salt shaker, and the first thing the first boy she meets says to her is you’re beautiful.
she didn’t blush, she wasn’t flattered: she didn’t believe him. she excused herself politely and rushed out the door of the cafe, pounding up the stairs, wondering what that was about. every time she saw him there after that he offered a half smile from across the room, nothing more.
after a while, a while of living amongst the bustle, of other men and women showering her with compliments on her perfect face and long legs, she realized that although she hadn’t noticed, that boy hadn’t been lying; she was beautiful. she made sure to tell him that the next time she saw him.
he makes sure to tell her that every day now.
they met at a show. who was playing neither of them remember. all she recalls is the boy with the friendly smile and lively green eyes, him the girl with black hair, big dimples. they wouldn’t call it love at first sight when asked: they were too practical. in secret, he thought it. in secret, she didn’t.
she went away on business much, always seeming to come home in the middle of the night. she’d slip his hands between her thighs: there was no easier way to wake him. he was always to happy to see her, feel her clenching her adductors around him. there was nothing he loved more than being inside of her, head bent, lips on her collarbone, listening to her whisper how much she loved him, all of him, in spanish.
it was months before he started to suspect that something was off about her, that there was more to these trips she took. every time she returned he pretended not to notice the bruised knuckles, the scratches on her forearms. he had asked her about them once. she had stared at him, a flicker of warning in her eyes that she blinked away sharply, and asked him what he wanted for dinner.
he should have never opened that suitcase.