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Dana (From the Inside Out)

The apartment was, slowly but efficiently, emptying; books and CDs, old pillows and photograph-frames, all being packed into boxes that cramped in on us like a new layering of drywall. It was strangely unoppressive, but I suppose that was due to us being in such close proximity anyway. The boxes were moved out, too, in the end. First went the ones on top of the stacks, and the places where the real wall was visible kept growing and growing in cubes of white, dotting around us as doves dotted the clear blue sky. Dana sat near me, a small kitchen knife in his hand, peeling an apple into the bowl beside us. I mirrored him around the corner of the torn and burnt-toast table. Jonnothan and Rosemary were moving more boxes out from the little cube we lived in and into the narrow hallway that led down a flight of rusty, metal stairs. The cardboard prisons were passed from the former to the latter; that was all it took to get them to the ground. Then, I saw them backing out the door – a head of golden, sweaty curls before a flash of a bright yellow T-shirt.

Dana’s big, dark hands fluidly slid over the lipstick surface of the fruit. The peeling curled over around the knife, then did a flip-flop dive into the bowl under our hands. His ribbon lips were in a gentle smile. Dana’s smile was always that way: small, barely even lifting up the seam of his mouth, but as honest as a circlet of gold floating above his head. I set down the freshly-naked apple I’d been cutting away at to reach for another one.

“Anita?”

“Hm?”

He gestured over to my outstretched hand. “I’m sorry, but I think this is enough now…” He trailed off into counting the shiny white apples sitting in a row in front of us both; it was easy to tell who the better surgeon would be. Dana was so quick, precise, and his strokes were so much longer and straighter than mine. For such an unapproachable-looking man at first glance, Dana was so careful with his hands. Big, warm hands. “Ahh, six! Six apples; that should be perfect.”

I laughed softly under my breath. Is there anyone who couldn’t laugh around him? The idea of anyone being remotely incontent around Dana seemed as impossible as catching a wave in a cup.

I moved my arm to set the cerise-clothed apple back with its family; a shocked gasp broke the pleasant silence, and I felt that comforting hand shoot out to catch my wrist in the action. The blade he was previously holding clattered onto the table in a silver ring flash, along with the fruit, and he brought my arm up and close to his face. A dull pain put my wrist on fire when his evenly-cut nails started to dig into the cuts that had been sketched there. I gasped too, and he quickly loosened the hold. Dammit! I should’ve kept the bandages on…

His mouth stayed parted for a moment more, obsidian eyes roving up and down my forearm, before those innocently-manipulative orbs met with mine. He looked so hurt.

“Anita!...”

I expected him to drop my wrist onto the table with the knife and the half-peeled apple. I took it for truth that he would embarrassedly move on to the next piece of fruit without another word to me. Dare I say I wanted him to? But I should have known Dana. Tears flooded into those beautiful eyes, and his arms were flung around me, squeezing the breath out of me as he cried into my shoulder. A ghostly gasp was juiced from my mouth when our bodies collided, and as the gentle soul in a lion’s body wept against my hair, I was left to gape at the gap in the wall of boxes.




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