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And I Know

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And I know. I know it and I hate myself for it. I know I've fallen hopelessly in love and I know so long as I am here I will never get over you, you and your delicate determination and your wild, dark hair and your eyes that blaze like embers. And I know that wanting you is like waiting for rain in the desert; I know it's going to end terribly and I know I'm tearing myself apart and I know how utterly useless it is, and how inevitable.

And the days fly by in shades of confusion and clarity, passion and peace, and I pretend it's all fine and I carry my heart in my hands, waiting to stumble and watch it crack apart. Ever since our first meeting, it was always going to end in a million fractured pieces. I know I am going to walk away distraught and irreparably broken.

And yet. . .

With all this forethought, I am still not prepared when the day dawns at last.

It's for a play. Of course it's for a play; I knew this was going to be the death of us, of me and my love for you. We have to be a couple, you say. We have to hold hands, you say, and my organs flutter. We have to kiss, you say, and suddenly my mouth is full of you.

Our kiss is chaotic and awkward and ill-timed and impulsive and clumsy and I like it. Our teeth crash and I like it. Our tongues don't dance, they tumble clumsily around each other and I like it. I touch my hand at the nape of your neck and I lean into the kiss and it's perfect and I love it. I love you.

And suddenly you're pulling back and your eyes are large and frightened and I realize it was only me, only me and my love for you. You stare as though you can acutely see the both of us, naked and raw, and we feel ugly and deformed under your gaze. It is all crashing down. "I can't do this," I whisper and escape from the suffocating room. My voice has never sounded so much like breaking glass.

My feet alone carry me through the city. My brain is otherwise occupied, burning with white hot panic and profuse regret and dear God what have I done, what have I done, what have I done? Twice I stagger into the street, twice I nearly crumple against the front of a car, and twice I consider if that instant outcome might not be better than my fate of watching, of feeling you fade from my life.

Suddenly I'm in my house, pulling out a derelict suitcase and throwing indiscriminate pieces of my ramshackle life into it, wondering what I'm doing and where I'm going and why I am leaving the best thing I've ever known behind. But I know it'll hurt far too much to linger. The lesser of two evils, I think, and why does it seem like that is always my choice?

My fingers grip the suitcase handle—I don't even know what I put in it—and I check my pockets for money only to find my keys and your cell phone. My hands won't stop trembling as I put them both on your desk, and the sound they make, clattering against the scratched wood, seems so horrifyingly final. Suddenly I know this is the end. This is the inevitable shredding and shattering and I don't know if I can wait to get to a hotel room before I break down as I'm breaking apart.

And then it's you. Of course it's you. I know you sprinted after me all the way here because as you burst into the kitchen your breath comes ragged and your cheeks are flushed and lovely. Despite your lack of oxygen, you are screaming at me, asking why. I cannot answer and I do not know and I can't even look you in the eye because I don't want you to see the tears gathering against my eyelashes.

But as you grab my chin and force me to stare into your inestimable eyes, one drop slips down my cheek, a silent betrayal. You follow its winding path with your pupils, gazing at it the way you gaze at stars.

And you fall silent, watching, thinking, and maybe it's just you flexing your fingers, but one brushes tenderly along my jaw and it's too much. I tear myself away, instantly missing your touch. My heart is turning to stone and the word leaving spills from my mouth and it hangs in the hair, heavy with heartache, and you are still staring and I'm not even sure you heard me or can feel the crushing weight of that word. This hurts like flying bullets and is enough to make me move. I take two steps toward the door, two large, permanent steps. Three, four, five, and there are too many tears to see the stairs.

Then there is something new. Something strange and unexpected and incredible. Your arms are around me and I look down at the limbs entwined across my chest and your torso is pressed against my back and I do not know what this is, only that I love it. Yet I know it must be fake, a lie, a small plead to retain whatever I am to you. I am too tired of grasping for what isn't there so I try to detach myself, but you tug me back, wrenching the suitcase from my hands and yanking me down on the sofa. Only then do I see the saltwater stains under your eyes, a rain in the desert.

Then you are pulling me close to you on the worn cushions, begging over and over in a whispered, anguished voice please stay, please stay, please stay and my mouth is full of you again.

And I know. I know this is not fake. This is real, because nobody who is not violently in love can kiss the way you are kissing me. Like a sudden hurricane, it dawns on me that your earlier fear was of your own feelings, so quickly roused at the touch of our lips. I don't need your voice to tell me that you need me to stay, but it tumbles from your lips between our sweet, satiating kisses. "Please don't go" and "I need you" and "I'd be lost" and "I'm yours." I reveal to you wordlessly that I will never leave, not unless you ask me to go, and the thought makes you laugh, relieved and doubtful of its likelihood.

My thumping heart is now wonderfully alive and I sink into you, enveloping you with ferocious affection. You sigh into my ear and your breath is a warm tickle on my neck and I love this. I love the elation and desire that sparkle in your eyes as you gaze at my face and trace it with your fingertips. I love the blend of tenderness and passion and look on your face tells me there will be plenty of both in the future.

Our lives have rocketed off into a completely unforeseen trajectory, a spectacular glitch in the laws of physics, and I know I will be thankful for this phenomenon every day I am alive.




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