hurts.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

invited her for coffee after finding something about her attractive on a dating application. In the seating area of his chosen coffee spot, they met. She thought of all the reasons he can’t be or shouldn’t be. After a whirlwind weekend, without apology, she refused to let him in. There were only words; once they’re out, she gladly went on with her life without wayward thinking of him.

“We made love before making love.”

It became a ritual that he’d slip back into her mind, the after-thought of a first experience. Making-out in the backseat of his car, he whispered into her neck. It’s all on her mind. From the things she didn’t like to looking forward to the chance of seeing him again. Then, the things she once didn’t like some how, she missed.

It’s months later, and she’d begun to look forward to her backwards slip. He brings smiles to her eyes at the way he twirled his college ring on his right hand, but it’s the talk that does it. They are both verbal people, and he talked with hands. Like he dances, without apology and with ease, too, his words fly around her like their connection; birds follow each other, side by side, forming a design of adventure. She comes out of the bathroom on their third date and he’s waiting. He kisses her. He pulls her. Likewise, the conversation is waiting and ready for her. They’re an adventure.

“…he doesn’t know any of this. He’s just… gone.”

Her roommate scoffs. She never had sex with him, but she feels the words, the kisses, the time with me to be more than a connection without clothing. She tries to put words to it, “we made love before making love.” In love feels dramatic for then or now. She could try to care, but no one has to get it: they made love before making love.

It takes three months for her to disentangle the heat with him from the hurts of the past. She stops for a breath on a run one day. His memory, she’s breathless. It gets worse in the evenings; she notices herself huddling together against her knees. She wants to keep him.

“It takes… dying to fall in… love.”

Another three months pass and it’s a blur of coverings. A first date leads to sex with a random guy she doesn’t love. Dates without connection. Thoughts and questions about what she was so afraid of plague her in between. He doesn’t know any of this. He’s just… gone. She’s a wretched ball of anxious thoughts. She’s rolled-up; it feels like dying to fall in his love.

Back to his smile, to the way it feels when he looks at her, she ponders: is she going crazy? Realization takes too long that she could have fallen in love with him. She notices that she’s begun wearing an apologetic smile in public places with salads on the table next to dirty forks. Is this a cafe of possibly terrified people whom maybe too love happened upon? They aren’t strangers. They are enlightenment from the other side.

Enlightenment slaps her in the face with friendships after strangers. It’s new possibilities for her roommate floating in front of her in the night air out of her heart. She’s in and it seemed he was too, but then he’s gone. She longs to not empathize, but she does.

Photo by Sean Stratton

“My friend says she dated a man before her husband who did this,” she watches her roommate take a puff of a cigarette, “they were hot and heavy then suddenly he’s poof!” She takes another poof. She blows the air away from her with the fleeting story. She longs to not empathize, but she does.

“Then months later, after she’d met her now husband,” she turns to her, “he pops back up,” her hands flay into the air, “and, get this, he tells her that he now realizes that he was overwhelmed and not ready.” She tries to hide the grumble low in her belly, but it’s eating at her.

Her roommate fake laughs, “guesses he was ready then,” and she says with disgust and rolls her eyes, “ass.” Her roommate utters something about men then puts her cigarette out. She’s never felt less feminine in her life.

“You ready?” Her roommate declares the answer as she stands. He’s lost his chance, her roommate says. He wasn’t ready, well, that’s his loss, her people told her. He’s going to be all by himself for the rest of his life, they say. She’s never felt more lonely in her life.

She sighs and stands. She’s ready…. Now.

Photo by Jonathan Chng

When we write, we all long for light in the dark places. https://mobile.twitter.com/claudiasmize Instagram: c.s.mize

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