As he shared the inner workings of his brain, I gazed at him. His words poured out of his lips as they filled the car and drifted into my ears. My lips curled up without realizing it, an irritating tick I seemed to have whenever I was near him.
“What are you smiling for?” He inquired as he squeezed my hand.
The combination of words struck me, knocking me out of balance. It was a question I had not dared to ask myself before, neither was it a question I could answer lightly. I cowardly decided to blatantly lie with the most deceiving word in the English dictionary: “Nothing.” The genuine answer was complex and confusing, and most dominantly f***ing terrifying. What can at first impression seem as a simple question was, in fact, one of the toughest things I could ask. I could lie to myself like I had countless times before and claim that it truly was nothing, nothing of true value. But suddenly at that moment, even if I hid it from him and everyone else, I couldn't deny it to myself. I was smiling because at that space and time, in this tiny place found in such a vast trivial universe, I found meaning. I was smiling because he was there and I was there with him, feeling things I never allowed myself to feel before. This time it wasn't up to me if I felt them or not; he had gotten under my skin damn it and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Everything I resented before, what I used to naively refer to as moronic and unlogical, started making sense. Words and thoughts I would never dare to think and much less say out loud were invading me, rewiring my brain in ways I did not comprehend. And he was the one to blame. Hatred and love were what I felt. Hatred for making me feel so vulnerable, so unquestionably scared for what was to come. Yet love, for making me want to find out anyway. So why was I smiling? Because of him. Because of the wholeness of him. But somehow "Nothing" seemed like a better option, a safer one. These were things I wasn't ready to admit fully to even myself. He nodded and smiled not believing my answer as if he knew what "nothing" actually meant, but he didn't. One day he would.