It was around midnight, maybe later than that, judging by how I couldn’t stop yawning every few minutes, and my eyes would hazily close and then open startled when he would breath or talk to himself under his breath. I didn’t know why, but his enthusiasm was enlightening to me. I wanted to know what about what he wanted to know made him want to know it so badly. Maybe it was the love talking, but I really was interested.
“Any luck?” I asked, unwilling to stay silent for long. We were in the backseat of some beat up white chevy he was borrowing form a friend for the night, and it was so dark that his eyes were the only things I saw with clarity.
“You would know if there was.” He replied, not taking his binoculars away from his eyes. I stared at them, noting how they seemed so different, but yet on his face, so alike his whims and ideas. So forthright, so intrusive.
“What are we doing, again? What are you doing, I should say.”
“We are waiting for my ex to leave that restaurant with her friends, I need to know what color her dress is, and if its anything close to orange, I’m calling her and asking her to take me back,” he replied.
“Why orange?” I said, and then yawned again.
“You should take a nap,” he said, patting my shoulder like I was a nice leather arm on a chair, and not really a person. He wasn’t the best at affection, but I understood his trying more than most people even cared to.
“Yeah, but then I’ll miss you telling me when its the moment!” I got a little higher in my voice, trying to get him to shove me or something, I wasn’t so sure.
“You’ll be aware. I won’t be silent at all.”
So with his permission, I drifted off, closing my eyes. I didn’t really sleep, because soon after he was shaking me awake, and I was watching him as he dialed in on the binoculars. It wasn’t like the restaurant was that far away either, so it was even more unnecessary but funny.
“Its red,” I noted. Then I realized the implications. “You calling her tomorrow?”
“I better not, but I have to now.” He made a dissatisfied sound. He’d been my friend for a while so I knew his every emotive word, motion, noise. Each one.
“You don’t have to do anything for her anymore. She isn’t yours to love, and she probably didn’t deserve your love even when it was hers. Don’t promise her anything anymore.” I wanted him to feel consoled, inspired, so we could go back to the apartment we shared and not have to deal with his attention to detail anymore.
“I’m never dropping her,” he said, a flick of emotion in his voice giving me a near heart attack, like an earthquake starting up. “I’m never stopping my love for her, I don’t think it would be reasonable to even try.”
“That’s unfortunate for you,” I said, wishing he would hear the break of my voice as a sign that this was more important than just something about him.
“I know,” he said. “You’re right.”
The next day, I watched him dial her number, sipping coffee out of my overused thermos. He was watching his fingers thrumming on his arm, but looked up at me, not smiling.
I mouthed, “You okay?”
And he mouthed, “Sort of,” and then nothing else.
I heard his slur of shouting and irrational words that followed his response to me, then. The words he was leaving her in a voice message on her phone to find later and most likely cry to. But I didn’t want to hear them for my own catharsis to have its moment, I wanted to hear him. He was my best friend, and lying wouldn’t do me any good if I told myself that I didn’t love him.
I wished that he knew just how much.
Through your fickle hands and fickle heart I smoothly transition to myself;
And though I knew that from the start you would be the one to know me well,
I knew not well your fatal approach,
Its mysterious elegance, its filthy air.
You were to me as still a broach,
Of words so quaint and purposeful and fair.
You said, “Dear bright, oh weeping friend, how does the night so buy your end?”
And won me back from heaven’s might,
I do not know that poison bites.
Well my back I turned and to delight!
And so, I said, “Dear, I know not, of ends and endings of ends forgot.
Though I know words and fables too,
The trick is, Sir, to be friends with few.”
You protest, and, I turn to see,
Your face in mockery of simple, small me,
But no face I encounter on a pivot of heel,
You smoke, you wonder,
You are not real.
“Do not face me fearless,” you whisper sound,
“I do not mean to scare you; I do not mean to be found.
I hide in the shroud of night as she waits,
For day her dear enemy, to hold her at bay.
My skin be like feral, be open, be new,
But your eyes must not take it,
Must stay only to you.”
“But! Sweet breath that I do contend, allow me your mystery a genre to end!
For you are nothing but a gasp of vision’s arrogance,
Through which I see myself, and blood, and this carnage!
Do not be alone,
Do not seek to arrive,
Be humble! Be Bold! And I will be satisfied!
For you seem enough, just right on your own.
You will be enough; I see to it, I’ll be done.”
So I whirl to see you, but no image I catch,
Your anger is fretful, as keen as a match,
A flame licks no higher than air can find lift,
But your flame was so chilling, I hardly knew this.
“Oh, you pass with remorse,”
I might think aloud.
“Allow me to humble you and say no more;
And I will leave, and the floor will remain for soles,
As well as mine,
Which sinks to it in deep lulls.”
“Sweet miss!” He calls,
And I startle, for ‘fore thought he gone,
“I am never so worried,
I know only my song.
But I wish I was fluent in great features of yours,
A symphonic register, I cannot accord.”
I stay fearful, but hopeful, a concoction of fools,
“Sir! I am in love! With you, oh with this spool!
This unwinding thread that laces so thin,
But when run over much,
Grows thick as a skin! And your skin,
Oh my dear, you know how you do.
Please one touch, oh
And then I’ll be through.
I need just confirmation, and I need just time.
My hesitation is panicked,
By your weakened spine.”
“Do not see it weak, see it favoring life,”
His agitation is such as my heart wanting blood: rife.
Though I knew as he spoke it, I knew of my strife.
“My pleasantries settled,” he went, “I know of your pain,
I feel sorrow, and stillness, and I know only your name.
But my love.
I am honest. And honest of kind.
You do, look so lovely, as heaven with eyes.”
“Grow cold and grow colder, I know not of this.
You leave to my earnest, you leave to my miffed.”
I’m touchy and blushing,
And he is still mine,
In my heart though I’m shaking, thinking it blind.
And he touched my skin suddenly, and I knew not a word,
To utter, to think,
My overjoyed entity whirred.
How I kindly suspected, that he cared not for me.
But of his own graded kindness,
That I could just see.
“Dear, turn and peer,” so I followed his ask. And I slowly did circle,
And I slowly did pass. And my eyes made their mark,
An untimely throw.
I was not aware,
I would want him, this show.
“Dear,” he says, not evading my eyes,
“This is your will’s wanting, this is still your prize. I know of its privy,
I know I am worse,
I fear not your judgment,
As this silence so slurred.
Speak! Speak aloud? Do you hate not inside?
Oh please dear just a word,
I know I could cry.”
I gaze at him, open, and know that right then.
No beauty could hurt me,
As much as this man.
I smile, and embrace him, my arms long ribbons frayed,
“I know you are broken, allow my solace made.”
“You sweet earth, you sweet miser, you sweet everything else.
How could you, just love me, like I was yourself?”
His words I turn over, a terror inside,
“I run not on love, but on fatal and true. You are too much love,
For me, and for you.”
I knew now his face, and I knew now his feel.
I knew that his beauty,
Was all real.
Or as real as I willed,
All of him to be.
I know not of love,
But of love’s wanting to see.
I tried terribly not to smile. He gazed at me, a curious child, the muscles meant for the same action I was suppressing getting good use in his visage.
His grin peaked in size at about the center of his cheeks on either side.
“You suppressing your feelings is so sexy to me.” He said.
An internal rake felt necessity to work on my throat, making me feel like I had to gag. I suppressed that change too, but allowed my eyes to flicker and pummel their notions into his as they liked.
“God. Way too sexy.” He jumped on me, his lips for my frozen mouth. “Keep it there. Don’t…move.” He was into the skin of my neck, my entire body colliding with chemicals of fury and elation. On debating which one to have show through, elation won to my surprise.
My eyelids fluttered, his teeth dragging in slow and lazy slopes on my neck, under my jaw. I felt the feeling like a ridge under my spine, my body arching, and my hands took to his shirt.
His fingers gripped my hair. Not in a way that caused me pleasure. I realized he was sure in his authority. I wasn’t supposed to feel anything. Unless of course I made a mistake.
I couldn’t contend with his demeanor. His face was upsettingly baren of emotion. No guilt, no insecurity. Nothing human to nurse with my visual compassion. I felt my throat tighten more, my nostrils flaring as my lungs reminded me to breathe.
“I don’t like wasting my breath,” he said, his voice disturbing in its steadiness.
Roiling inside, I slowly sunk down. But he was still holding my hair, like it was a climbing rope. I didn’t know whether to fight or follow his instructions. My scalp was burning, and so were my legs as I got even lower, bending my knees.
“What? Is this uncomfortable for you?” He asks. A snip of sadistic venom fits his tone. I don’t move, half squatting, my neck tense and stretched. I want to use his thighs to balance myself, but I’m afraid to do anything else.
“I don’t think you’ll ever finish that book. I don’t think you’re dreams are worth anything. What is wrong with you, you can’t even fight back right now?” He laughed, and I felt every muscle in my body shake, my face red with effort.
“Okay… That’s it.” He lets go of my hair suddenly, and gravity does the rest. I fall backwards onto my back, gasping as I feel my muscles finally able to relax, my heart too able to quench the figurative cells of my emotions on the painful presence of awareness.
“Fuck, that really hurt!” I screamed, manically scrubbing my hands into my hair, wherever it was stinging, so as to scare away the imaginary hornets.
He was still looking at me, a peculiar blend of his silent thoughtfulness and my own anxiety causing my body to ripple with the unnamable feeling.
“The point wasn’t your pleasure, Maya. I wanted to hurt you, so I did. This is how we’re doing this.” I couldn’t tell whether or not this promise held value. After all, the only things he seemed to value were his own sadistic ideas. And even though this statement was a direct correlation to them, how could I ever trust what came out of his mouth, knowing him?
“Fantastic, looking forward to more of it.” My voice was acerbic, but inside I was overheating with anxiety.
His glare fixed in place on his face, but, to my utter confusion, his whole body gradually flowed downward like a falling ribbon, until he was sitting across from me on the floor.
He sighed, closed his eyes, and my confused expression only deepened. “Do it. Now. Please, just get it over with.”
I wanted to ask a million questions, but none seemed burning enough. “What are you talking about?” Was the one I chose to vocalize.
Now that we were at eye-level, I could look right into his when his lids gently opened. The stormy stone-blue rings underneath bore only impatience, but oddly, vulnerability, the implication of it faltering unsurely in the blue.
“Touch me, feel your emotions, do whatever you need to, I won’t move, I won’t react.” He sounded like he was telling me how to read an instruction manual. I almost did a double take. He rolled his eyes, but then, instead of harping on my inability to do anything without long pauses, just closed them again.
I willed his voice to signify meaning to this exercise again, but no such occurrence interrupted the silence that now sat between us, a third member of our party.
Slowly, so slowly that it worried me how fast my heart was beating by comparison, I leaned forward, and gently touched his hand, where it sat over his knee. He was sitting cross legged, and his back was slightly hunched over his legs. I touched his middle finger, the very last knuckle, and stroked up and down, the skin soft, but my heart was flinching erratically behind my ribs.
I checked in on his eyes, momentarily ready to look away in case he would be giving me two daggers, but nothing of the sort happened. His eyes were shut, his eyelids though moving a little, almost like he was asleep. I smiled at that.
“You’re very beautiful.” I said. These were my daggers, at least to his mind. I wondered if his scalp stung, if his heart was flinching. “I love the crest of your nose, the way your eyes and eyebrows fit into your face, the way your skin clings so tight on your arms, every vein shows off. You are like living poetry, you are a promise I will never keep, you are a setting sun, and I am the horizon, waiting ever so patiently for your return.” I paused, he hadn’t moved yet, but his mouth was now in a different set, and his jaw was locked.
“Burn me, kill me, cut me, stow me away. The only pain I want is you, anyway.” I sang, coming up with more words in my mind, a melody escaping in a hum as I planned them out. I lifted a finger to his jaw, lightly feeling out the hard edge of it. “Fuck, you could cut me you know, keep yourself in check.” I murmured, laughing at my own words like they were funny. He didn’t move.
I sighed, and said, “You know I want to kiss you, right? I do. I do I do. I always think of kissing what I shouldn’t. One time, I tried kissing a flatiron. You know what happened? He didn’t call me back!”
His nose released a bit of air, his lips twitching, almost like the action was involuntary. I felt something infantile and warm nudge my insides, ready to start parading around my brain with joy colors of budding hope raised too high. I stopped it in its tracks. This was no time for that.
“Oh, sweet, tremendous boy of gold, you know your story, you know mine, I want you for me, all the time.” I sang again. I touched his hair, fisting into it, expressing my most sensitive gentle side as I looked for his most delicate and light colored pieces, and I touched and twirled my fingers about like my intuition concentrated as the blood in my hand.
I then pulled back. I scooted back my seat until I was a few feet further away from him. And then I just stared.
After a while I decided to finish my visual interpretations of him. I was starting to feel guilty for causing myself anxiety so strong so voluntarily. I needed to stop, not wanted. “Okay. I’m done.”
He fell back, knees hinging up with him as his hands went to massage out his eyes. I could see this action through the fissure between his thighs, down along his torso. He was just laying there, groaning to himself. In my stomach, my body felt less comfortable, as if I’d just had an intestines transplant. It wasn’t something I could easily ignore.
“If I don’t suit you, and you don’t like me, than why are we even bothering?” I felt loathing for myself and him, and with my face in my hands, I felt brave enough to get out the question.
“Does it matter?” He asked. “No, it doesn’t.” He sounded gruff, annoyed. I couldn’t believe him. He was impossible to even minutely satisfy, and when that seemingly impossible task was finally accomplished, it didn’t even last long.
“You’re so full of shit,” I said. “You don’t care, and you don’t care than you don’t care. It’s fucking insane! It’s like you have no fucking heart. You aren’t human at all.”
“Maybe I actually have my wits, and I just don’t prescribe to the childish whims of emotion and love that you and all other idiots do. Maybe I—”
“NO!” I shouted. “No! You can’t say that. YOU. CAN’T. SAY. THAT.”
And then I felt like I wanted to be violent, because I knew with a shudder that he wouldn’t even budge on my preferred emotional front. I had to fight his fire with mine.
“Get up.” I said.
He looked up, not moving, head still rested back on the floor.
“I’m not opposed to castration by force if you were wondering,” I added, crossing my arms, my face blazing.
He quickly got up, but his face was smooth, calculating, taking in mine for signs of change, reason. I was far beyond such small notions as those however, and I even smiled to myself.
“I hate you.” I said.
And then, as hard as I could in that second of anxiety-adrenaline-worry-fear-anger, I grabbed his waist with both hands and kneed him in the groin.
Finally, I was given a reaction. Although I felt a pang of guilt and a pang of something else because I wasn’t getting this reaction out of what I’d originally wanted to, which was his seemingly nonexistent emotional pain, at least, I decided, I was getting it.
He fell to the ground, and clutched himself, making sounds of clear agony. I wanted to watch him like this but then I felt my reality check slam into me. I turned away.
“I’m sorry.” I said.
He said nothing, just breathing as he swore in low whimpers, not leaving his position on the floor.