She Couldn't Feel His Touch

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She couldn’t feel his touch.

She had been able to, once. In fact, it had been all she could feel. Sometimes it felt as though he were her only link to the world, the flimsy silk knot that tethered her to the earthen plane. Not that she would’ve told him that, of course. Boys didn’t like to hear things like that, which she didn’t really understand; if he’d told her that, she would’ve been over the moon.

The thing she liked best about him was the fact that he liked her. It was her only requirement, really. She liked to matter. He was handsome, of course, and strong, and funny, and he could cook and kill spiders and bring her water when she was sick. None of that mattered, though. If she was being honest with herself, she knew almost nothing about him, save that he adored her. The only thing the pair of them had in common was her.

She didn’t know what he did with his time. When he left their house, an apartment painted in whimsical colors that sparkled in the afternoon light, he didn’t come back until the shadows were long stretch marks on the wall. The shadows scared her, but she knew he didn’t understand. Nor did he believe her when she told him about getting lost in the couch; she’d simply slipped beneath the cushions and hadn’t been able to find her way back. When she explained, in complete seriousness, that there were woods inside the couch—dark, frightening woods in which stuffed bears offered her balloons—he’d laughed for ages. He hadn’t seen the bears with their glassy eyes, or smelled the too-piney trees.

Sometimes people came to their apartment, which she didn’t like. It was part of what was ruining them, she’d decided, part of the reason why his kisses felt like paper and his hugs like a whisper of the wind. She didn’t like other people in their space. Everything was perfect, besides the shadows and the bears, and he’d promised he’d get around to fixing that. He’d told her—lying, of course—that the people were going to help fix it. They hadn’t. They had, instead, offered her food and bright-colored drinks that cast rainbows on his face.

Since the paper kisses had begun, she’d started going to the woods more and more. She knew it bothered him—he’d screamed, girlishly, the day he’d come home only to find her emerging from the couch cushions with leaves tangled in her hair—but that was no longer sufficient reason for her to stop. The bears didn’t scare her the way they once had. In fact, the woods felt more and more like home; sometimes, when she emerged from the black forest into her shiny apartment, she felt the way she had upon first discovering the balloon bears.

The best part of the woods was the time—it never changed. In the vast expanse of the forest, it was always night, the stars just obscured by the trees’ leafy branches. In the bright house, there were clicking faces that changed with the sun.

Before long, she’d forgotten what she’d ever seen in the shiny place. She stopped going altogether, eventually. There was a bear in the woods, a particular bear, whose eyes shone just for her. The thing she liked best about him was the fact that he liked her. It was her only requirement, really. She liked to matter. He was handsome, of course, and strong, and funny, and he could cook and kill spiders and bring her balloons when she was sick. None of that mattered, though. If she was being honest with herself, she knew almost nothing about him, save that he adored her. The only thing the pair of them had in common was her.

But she could feel his touch.





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