I remember looking at you, 3am barefooted on the dark streets, and telling you that this was the easiest way to be happy.
Don’t try to understand okay.
You may not understand it but she’ll disappear off into the maps for a few night’s stay with her own sheets, you’ll barely hear a word and her lips will run so dry you’ll be tempted to wet them with your own but all you need to do is keep in the quiet and wait for her to turn back to you. She might glance up once in awhile, it’s only to look at you. She needs you there as little to none as she may show it. When she shuffles her legs she’s feeling them brush against yours when you are past sleep. When she bends her knees to prop her journal, your hips are beneath them. When she tucks her hair she is flustered because the touch is nowhere near as rough as her skin remembers. But it’s okay. She’ll be okay. Just give her the time she needs, let her have the affairs she needs. She will need a lot of them, however she will never ask for them. She can’t afford words at times like those.
Let her shrug into her rain coat at two in the morning, don’t make it known that she’s woken you up. Watch her. Look at how fragile she is. She isn’t as exhausted as you think, just wait until she returns. She might come back in through the door a few times, she’ll try to be quiet and use her toes but the cracks in her ankles might give her away, but you know what to expect. No matter how long she spends tossing things to find her journal, let her come back to the edge of the bed to grab it from against your thigh. You might save her the time, but it is much better for her to have the touch. The second she reaches bedside may be all that’s necessary for her to come back to you. It is a dangerous place to be, for her, but that’s why she loves it in the ways that she does. If she leaves at such an hour, you have nothing to worry about. She is being cared for. The night is sitting on her shoulders and playing with her hair, it may come back tangled but the company was all she needed. Her lips are warm, and everything delicious is resting on her tongue. It isn’t that she prefers it over your taste. No. Don’t be so foolish as to think it’s that. The mere thought of tasting it along with your lips when she returns will be what brings her back through your door in the first place.
She will need to taste other things, she will need the attention of her books and the caress of the pages along her fingers and she will need the attention of her mugs to burn her mouth, to leave her tongue singed to bring attention to the roof of her mouth, the backs of her teeth, to bite into her thick cheeks, just so she can recognize all of the places that still exist. She will need the attention of every thunderstorm that passes through the city streets and the attention of every dog stranded on surrounding fire escapes, every couple swaying drunkenly between her ankles on the sidewalks below. Most important she will need the attention from what you might think of as an excuse of a journal, a torn bundle of pages that may not even be bound. She may leave them all over the place, they may cover your papers for work and leave you running late. They may hide your keys. But she needs it. God does she need it. So let her have it. Don’t be angry with her. Don’t be impatient. Remember that the love she gives is a love you will alway have, please don’t forget that. She is begging even if she hasn’t said a word. No matter how many of these things she leaves under her tongue, no matter how direly she may need the attention of all of these others, her tireless affairs, know that they are nothing without you. Know that they are not taking away from any of the attention that you give her just the same. They do not exist without you. You are what is holding them together. Don’t feel as if you are lacking her. Don’t think that because she wanders she is not yours. She brings you everywhere with her. Watch her carefully. Because with these other lovers is when she is most yours.
When she kisses you before she leaves in the mornings only to hurry around the apartment to find the things she’s buried in the night before, let her believe she’d forgotten to do so and kiss her again. She may be back a few more times, but remember to let her carry the time. The touch is always what she needs.
Know that some days you may wake up to an estranged heart locked up into the girl that you love. You might not recognize her, and she doesn’t recognize herself, which is why she may not speak. She doesn’t want any other girl telling you the words that belong between the two of you. Throughout these days it may be the quietest it will ever be in that apartment, or it may be the most cluttered. It may take everything you have not to organize, not to dim the lights, not to reach for the remote and silence the orchestras streaming through the speakers. But it’s all that’s keeping her light. Overbearing does not exist for her, because she is every sense of the word. She is everything too much, because to her the thought of doing anything too little is hardly worth being done, and feeling anything too gently wouldn’t leave enough of a mark. Keep the lights on, if this is what she chooses. Leave the half tattered sketches displaced all over the counters, let them taint the pages of her books. It will only help her remember. (Look carefully into the lips, they most likely will always resemble yours. She can’t help that.) Let the bathwater run over, let it run cold. She will never see this as a frustration, you will never be able to tell she’s noticed. You won’t hear a thing besides a breath of a gasp when she sinks into it, sometimes she prefers the cold.
That’s another thing you’ll have to remember. Her temperament. You will never quite be able to follow behind as closely as you would like to. Let her write on the most riveting and beautiful days. Let her shade it from the living room. Let her shut down, you have no other choice. Let her stumble through the hallways because it is too dark to see her toes, her fingers dragging against the wallpapers, leaving behind granite trails. Don’t be mad at her for it. Let her sit in the corners of the counters and hold her knees to her on the kitchen floor, let her write. Don’t make her speak up, there are times when she won’t know how to use her tongue. But even then she will tell you that she loves you with everything that she does, and everything that she is. When she is stirring her hot chocolate and let’s the spoon clink against the side, don’t be naive enough to believe it’s an accident. When she lets the wine drip down the edge of the glass and catches it before it dips with her pinky, listen to her. When she pulls the down off of the bed and leaves nothing but the sheets and a single pillow at the foot, when she leaves the bathwater dripping in a full and chilled tub, when she leaves three quarters of her pancakes on top of the stove and leaves the blame to a full stomach, when she comes through the door soaked in rain water, when her jaw clenches, she’s telling you something. She is always telling you something. Do not take any sound for granted, any detail. Do your best to hear her, because if you can’t you don’t deserve her.
If you ever get a glimpse into her pages, she isn’t looking for any feedback. She may not be looking for anything once you’ve finished reading, she’s been studying you all the while. She’ll look for slight eyebrow raises, a purse of your lips, dialations, if your breath picks up or where it trips. She’ll count the seconds and later when you’re long gone to a drowsy night, she’ll skim her hand down the page and count to herself again, and believe me she will remember where every inch of you had reacted. Where you had curled up in the curves of the u’s, where you had let your breath escape into the o’s, the m’s caressing your tongue like she would. You will be overwhelmed by her. Consistently. Always. Just know you don’t have to understand to feel, and she is proof of that in the softest of flesh.
She may be up at ungodly hours of the night baking things that may never be touched, because leaving them to sit and be devoured by another is enough pleasure for her, and she has exhausted herself enough into the process to spend her love dissolving in her mouth. She would always much rather prefer crawling back into bed to find the taste of you. Don’t be alarmed if she leaves the bed, she’ll do so quietly and she will return with the most delicious sweets on the roof of her tongue, and that is something she cannot help but to share.
She’ll more often wear your t shirts than her own, and she’ll hold infatuations over inches of your body that you would have never considered could have been loved. She will kiss your knees and she will brush her thumb over your ankles when she’s crawling into bed, her lips will touch to the edge of your palm just where she likes it. Where the skin webs with the bones when you jar your thumb out to the side. The dresses that she wears will always be for you, loose in most places but hugging her in all of the places she’d like, know that these are your arms surrounding her throughout the day. Know that you are in every single mug that she cups, that she is bringing you to her lips with every sip. She will over indulge you in her favorites and speak about the tastes of things more often than you’ve ever taken notice to them, but what she is really saying is that she enjoys the way they stick to your kiss, and they always taste better with you.
She will always expend her day to you, even if you had been there. She will suffer for people she barely knows and she will feel heartache when a love is lost between the lines of her novel, because it was just as much hers as you are. She will often dwell on the thought of loss, she will feel things so tragic that you may not know how to help her, but as a writer she will always cling onto the things she does not have. Before you it was all she could do to be that girl who fantasizes until she nears madness and writes herself into all of the things that she wished warmed her chilled bones at night, but now that she has the feel of your skin against her own it’s the opposite that her heart aches for. The idea of loneliness and a tantalizing nothing fascinates her, and she will never be able to wrap herself around it when it is not with her. Do your best to understand. That is something she never will, either.
Some nights she will take up painting. She will spend copious amounts of money that she will never quite have to take up the one thing that consumes her and grabs her right then, no matter how fleeting. She will buy canvases and paints even if she already has the colors in a miscellaneous bin in the closet, she will always be unsatisfied with the shades, she will try her best to find one that matches the colors so vividly in her mind but she does not take note to the fact that such things do not exist. Some nights she will dance. Some nights she will write. Some nights she will wrap herself in and out of music, whether silently or out loud. Some nights she may simply take up you. She will be all over the place, all at once. It is all you can do to follow.
This is just the way that things will be. This is just the way that she is, this is the way that she loves. You may not be able to handle it, and you will never catch it all, but everything that is in your own little apartment is the result of her loving you. The poster half alive on the back of the bathroom door reminded her of the night you lit her candles for her to soak the apartment, you picked her favorite, because it was the closest that resembled the smell that so often was your skin. She leaves books in your place when you’ve left and none of them are quite at all by any sort of accident, the titles left on your side of the bed all have folded pages that made her ache, of you. The covers left on your side of the couch can all be translated into something. It will all mean something.
It will all mean everything. And in time, perhaps one night you just may catch up to the amount of love she is offering to you. Just know that even then, by morning she will have found another way to tell you, in all of the ways she knows how to. In the only way she knows how to.
She will get angry with you. She will spur up the wildest of temper’s you’ve ever seen, and she will often get agitated at the way she loves, because as difficult as it may be for you to take in it is all the more tiresome to exist as, all the more gruesome to her body to give. What most people don’t know is that she has no choice. She has no other option than to pour herself so heavily into everything that the two of you will become, it isn’t that it will drive her to insanity, it’s that she is already there. She has already pulled up a chair and had a silent breakfast as if two old friends, she has gotten to know it, just like every other emotion that has ever once surged through her tiny body. You might think it impossible for such drastic thoughts and feelings to be packed into something so small, and truth be it it is. The way that she loves you is nothing short of an impossibility. It is what will drive her towards death. It will, in time, kill her. Even if slowly, part by part, journal by journal, night by night. You will never, I promise, I swear to any God’s that exist, feel anything quite like what she will throw against you. She can love you gently, but she can love you just as roughly all the while. She will pay attention to the way you swallow every bit of it, and adjust to make you feel it even more. She will smother you and suffocate you, she will tear you apart and crawl herself into every little inch of you, and she will make it her own. And if you choose to love her back, if you choose to accept that you may never understand, that you may never comprehend, that you may never be able to dissect exactly what it is she is trying to say or trying to show you, don’t think of it as even the slightest any form of suffering, to be given this sort of love. Because she is left just as daft and dazed as you, and by some unrealistic force, you may find that you lose yourself as well. And it will be the most unnerving, bustling, and love defying experience of your existence.
Before I know it people are coming back home. People are just waltzing right back in through the double doors at the edge of my heart and making themselves comfortable, settling into the sheets that cling to their limbs again because there’s is the only scent that mingles correctly. Keeping lights on under shut doors for much longer than healthy, but what’s health if it come’s to a conversation with the rain, the moon’s eyes are always so teary and God it is so easy to listen. They are keeping me awake. Their windows are propped open and their fingers are playing along the wet and slick sills but I can hardly feel it, not yet, soon I’ll recognize them, though. I always do. I remember the knuckles of every single person I’ve felt. Some keep their heat on too high, sweltering in their blankets and tossing and turning waiting for the door to be pushed open enough to let my draft in. They want the sweat clinging to my neck, my clothes sticking to my ribs and neck and chest. Any excuse to run bare. Any excuse to run me bare. Everyone eventually comes home, and I never leave.
I’ll keep the windows down on my way home, maybe the smell of the night stuck against my skin will make you want to kiss me more. I know the night comforts you, so I’ll bring it to bed with me.
You have a bite to your cheeks that makes me crave winter, even as fragile as I am in the cold. And God I’d love to be lifted out of my boots, arms stuck fingers stuck between my ribs, clinging onto them for warmth. And if we remember to shut the door leave the draft between our lips, let me chatter my teeth numb against your tongue and drip the flakes from my lashes, cup my jaw like you always do and let’s go back to the night we’d first met. Flannel thick, tucked against wrists thick against your skin and the rashes left across my neck, my stomach, between my thighs and coffee spilt down throughout the knit drowning my chest. And when you unwound it you’d look at me and give my hip a nudge to twirl and let your fingers drag around my waist, and I’d unbutton from the bottom up so that the heels of my palms could slope to find the coldest flesh, and eventually we were out of fabrics. We always found a way to talk back to the chill. (I always did like the way it made your breath taste.)
This would be an absolutely ideal time to be in my own little apartment okay. I just want quiet and a gentle company. And I would just keep my sleepy playlists on repeat and all of the lights off and walk around in barely an excuse for clothing and my hair knotted up and half tangled in someone else’s fingers and half in the band and half in the sheets and half sprawled across a neck with my nose buried in deep. And I’d live in bed with a sleepy body and a sleepy mind and sleepy lips and a sleepy boy next to me with sleepy hands running down my back and a sleepy taste left in my mouth and rubbing against my tongue, asleep behind my teeth. And he’ll lay his head on my bare tummy and I’ll play with his hair and maybe drift in and out of sleep and lose track of the night and treat the morning like there’s no such thing. And I’ll sit inside the window pane and let my leg dangle out against the cold bricks and watch everything get drowsy around me and the streetlights blink while the fog rolls in, and if it rains I’ll stay right where I am and let my shirt cling to my ribs and hug crookedly against my neck and water the dandelions beneath me, and I’ll sit out on that fire escape until my limbs are sleepy enough to forget what bed means and how to rest other than lying against the cold metal three flights up. And if I start to fall asleep I’ll know handsome hands when I feel them hooked under my knees, and handsome lips when they meet to my temple and murmur something they know I will barely hear. But it will be enough. And I want that voice with me that could talk me so easily beneath the covers and to lye under them with just the light of the warmth at their lips to find one another, but look towards each other regardless, sighing while the other shifts and swallowing while the other licks their lips.
My body seems to know what yours tastes like and maybe that’s why I can’t seem to keep still in these sheets and why my lips feel so foreign to one another, as if it’s almost strange that they’ve come to meet each eachother again, so used to stumbling over yours if even the smallest of attempts. Don’t think you understand any part of Familiarity until you begin to lose all sense of yourself, until the night you cup cold water to your face and the drips running down your throat don’t bother you, when you wrap your arms around your tender little frame and stand there still beneath the water as it cools and chills and numbs because you don’t recognize the touch the feel the shape of your own body, why the third rib against your left cage isn’t abstract against the rest, while the skin under your palms mind as well be a stranger’s you had drunkenly picked up on the Subway. When you lick your pale lips and question the taste, and your legs graze together with a slight shift in bed and the weight is too delicate to be comfortable. When you cannot physically comprehend where your body has detached from theirs is what I would like to be maddened by. When I can sit in that cafe, exhausted and drenched from the ends of the hair stuck to my neck down into the boots leaving puddles beneath them, press the mug to my mouth, and taste your lips. When I’m huddling into any sort of warmth I can get from my own grasp, hurrying home to you, and the crisp wind coaxing my hair out of my face to nip at my cheeks becomes your palm against the blush, tucking loose strands against my ear. When the sunflowers and clementines is your smell in the morning. When the bite of Vodka becomes your teeth sinking into my lips, breaking skin and slurring me into your bed.
I want something that I cannot escape. I want to be smothered, loved, and familiar.
I am constantly on this uncomfortable and unrealistic edge between not knowing how to properly handle a situation and honestly wondering if there is a right way to handle anything at all. The thing is when I feel I feel too much and I am worried that as wonderful as it may seem as gushy and lovable and desirable and enviable as it might come across to be a girl who feels love to the amount that I do might be something that no one else could possibly handle. I used to live incessantly with intentions and expectations just waiting between my lips to pass over to anyone who’s got a cute pair to match them but lately since I’ve branched out and let myself just fucking be without needing the company of a love to talk me to sleep each night, I have found a place on my own even if it is still insanely fantasy driven, I just can’t help but to think that it may be just in my nature it may be all I am here for to pour these restless and overbearing and overwhelming and ridiculous urges to just love someone so fully that they cannot take it. So I don’t know how I will ever sit still if the love that I go after is the love that ends up driving love itself away. It is just ridiculous okay because even if I cannot say that I have someone here tucked in next to me that I love then I will have brief and fleeting relationships with every single person I pass and everything that touches to my fingers, anything that reaches my tongue. I could simple meet a dark set of eyes and for the entire night I am wrapped in a rain coat to my chin with hot chocolate in my palms, up and out late enough with hope that it may seem mysterious more than it does desperate, more than it does longing. Nothing tastes as good as kisses that you peek into. I just want to kiss some body but I don’t want to kiss just anybody and I just want to do cute things and tell myself it’s alright if it doesn’t mean a thing, but I know myself well enough to know that every inch of what’s handed to me is an opportunity to feel, and to feel more than I maybe should be able to. When is it too much? Because I don’t know.
My eyes are closed and I’m typing this hardly awake and hardly asleep and hardly aware and hardly rational but that is okay because a lot of the times my heart is right here at my finger tips or right on the tip of my tongue and I speak on it when most of the time I shouldn’t. People don’t know how to handle tasting that sort of love with a little kiss, how can you be sure what someone’s intentions are unless you question them with your lips? The edge of the jaw, their bare throat, you have to know what to pay attention to. Because it is all in the way they move it is not about the kiss it is the placement and the raw touch that will tell you everything you have to know, don’t be such a silly girl with that melting and mushy heart of yours, save it for the day when your windows were left open though that’s such a misleading term because you always prefer them that way, and you keep your lips clenched tight and touch your toes to the rain that’s soaking the washed boards beneath them and I know you’re thinking and I know you’re standing there with ankles chest fingers numb but stop thinking for the night and don’t say those words, don’t trip over the throbbing ache in your mouth I know it’s straining I know it’s tiring, you should have long ago been in bed but it’s not such a place at all for rest without a pair of knees to kiss your own. But don’t they always tell you it’s so foolish to need anyone else. Well so what if I just nudge out that word what if I get rid of the need and keep it for when it’s needed, no, no no I am not that vulnerable girl I do not need you but I crave you that’s more fitting does that keep things light on our toes enough, is that the right amount of emotion you’re looking for? And you’re happy on your own you’ve learned and you’ve wandered and you’ve shared late nights with the moon but doesn’t it seem silly when all you can quite think about is how those deep cheek bones might look in the night’s mouth and you wonder if the night keeps it’s heart on it’s tongue just like you do and if just maybe at the right time, just maybe there is a right time to say everything that you need to. There is that awful word again. But I do not want to need you, please believe that it may be the last choice I may make from this position, eyes glued to the dripping pane, waiting and impatient and wondering and barely at my knees barely crawling laying there split open for you to pick apart, I can’t help but to notice if you notice. No, but you might. I do not want to need you but tell me what it means to need someone when you are unsure of what you need? Tell me what it means to want without knowing how or feel without control, without pause and without any interruption even tasteful, when not even the salty tang against the tip of your tongue could quiet it. It is always that sort of night where if you were wise you’d curl into bed and let your analyzing and love drive you mad, but you’ve never been that type of girl. No, you want teeth sinking into every single place that makes you drip and stain your skin and lips and sheets and bones and fingers you want a constant reminder of things that might soon need to be forgotten, but you savor what you can get. And right now the blood on your lips, whether mine or your own, is enough for me to make the wrong choice maybe for one last night. Who knows what we could become by morning.
I would be somewhere where it’s raining. Where even the night can pull off looking gloomy, too dark, too cloudy. A moody night when the weather has a temper and my heart just keeps fluttering too much for it to think straight. At first I’d just like to have my raincoat with me. Dark blue, dangling down to just above my knees, big buttons crossing all the way to just beneath my chin, and a hood to swallow back my hair, even though it won’t save the drips from getting to my bangs. I want cute rain boots too. I’ll walk to where I’d like to go, just with the night’s company. The puddles can talk to me and the scuff of my boots can join in and the sloshing of the sleepy eyed drivers out at such an hour passing me can pitch in too, if they happen to be around. Then I’ll get to my little cafe. I want to be able to see it from a block away, when everything else is asleep and every window’s eyes’ are closed and the cafe is the only thing illuminated it seems for miles. That tangy, dim light. The light ding above my head to greet me. Then the night can wait outside, until of course I’m ready for it to walk me home, to tuck me back into bed. There’d be a cute dainty little waitress, the only one willing and able to work such a night shift, weary but present. I’d whisper my order to her before I sat, and I’d make my way to the very end of the cafe, against the corner window. I could let my hood fall and the ends of my hair send droplets to scurry and slide down my thighs, my fingers tingling. Waiting for the warmth. I’d get some delicious coffee, some sort of mocha or how about french vanilla. Yes I’d like that. And I’d hold it between my fingers until they blushed from the scorch of the heat and I’d stir, and I’d stir, and I’d stir, just to hear the clinks of the mug writing me a short little sonet. A love poem, even. If I could, if I really really could choose, the only company, then, that I’d ask for is a set of handsome eyes sitting on the very opposite end of the cafe, at his own round and tiny table with countless empty and body-less ones between us, the same aroma and scent clinging to his lips and skin as mine. Dark coffee to match deep set eyes, untouched and unrefined scruff to compliment a nice jaw. A brunette. A red rain jacket leading down to a wonderful pair of hands, a writers hands, a creator’s hands, passionate hands. Hands that look like they’ve touched ground. Touched someone, somewhere, something. Actually touched. Maybe a book at his table, like there’d be one tucked in the slouchy pockets of my coat. I’d like to look up, for him to do the same, to meet in the briefest of ways and know that at least then and there I belong to someone entirely, and they to me.
And I’ll kiss above your knees when you come home in your favorite sundress, letting my lip drag across all of the blending freckles that leave your cheeks aglow, bringing the sunlight with you when the moon’s company waltzes throughout our apartment. Daylight sits across your shoulders, my finger lazily slurring across them before the teeth sunken into your plush lips grabs my attention. I caught the scent of the break. Cracked lips and wine against the roof of your mouth but I’ll only grab the sweetest, one that will make your cravings drip behind the bed of your tongue, just let me curl up there. And when your neck cranes I’ll know. Your eyes I’ll catch while they lightly roll back and your eyelids flutter, your favorite treats wafting you towards the kitchen. Our fingers trip across the light switch but decide otherwise, the counters cool touch cupping under your thighs to hold you up, it’s palms might grasp too tightly but it’s just to keep you close. I know how the night teases you. And I’ll stand between your knees if you’ll let me, the kitchen’s heated breath mingling with yours and I’ll taste the sweet against your soft flesh, nevermind the timer. Clasp your knees. Surround me. If the rain starts to trip across the windows let them drown, I’ll keep my mouth along your nape and we’ll sit beside the vacant fireplace and watch the reflections drizzling across the floorboards, sundress straps slipping across the arch. We’ll set up a blanket on the floor and I’ll wait while you shower, droplets sheer as the nightgown’s arms clung around your waist, the long v draped down the center of your chest, blushed from the singe of the water. Come and sit between my legs, I’ll kiss your ankles and your spine and I’ll brush your damp hair with my fingers until our eyes slouch along with our bodies. You can rest here against me, here with me, I’ve got you. Don’t worry, I’ve got you.
There is something about her when she first comes through the door, bidding the rumbling night adieu with the rain slipping across her navy coat, palm sized buttons to her knees as she fumbles, creating a puddle across the flushed boards of the floor. And it’s too tiring to be angry with her, already I can taste the evening on her lips, the vodka diluted by the musk of the late morning hours and the watermelon mints piled in a nest beneath her tongue. And she lets her breath exceed her pale mouth, shivering teeth, almost as if she had been tucking it back to keep it from mingling with the moon’s, a riveting lover so she’s said. Some nights when her body lacks within our sheets I worry it has whisked her off, whispered to her some sultry tale of luminescent walks with lake water to dip her toes into, swallow her to her ankles while the two ripple conversations of where they are headed next. Somehow the pooled crescents always lead her bare feet back to me, on her toes but here, nonetheless. If nothing else I can make out the ruby red of her finger tips, smoothing the hair netted across her temples, knotting around her ears, caught in her lashes. Dripping. She stands small and dripping. With purple beneath her eyes, mascara hugging the swell, her freckles rearranged with water droplets I can hear pattering to the floor, closing my eyes to the sound of her heels shuffling against the damp wood. Her shoulders flexing, pulled back by her wrists, the coat sloppily landing to the floor. The breaths leaving her lips assure me that they are her own. I hear her necklace fumbling the chest of her dress, and the draft throughout the room sends a chill when I know she’s between my knees, where she waits. My eyes closed, sunken into our couch, fabric far from parched from her body weighting with mine the night before. And she leaves the windows open to paint the room with the night’s invisible grin, every piece of lightning allowing me a look. Briefly. Fleeting. The flutter of a nervous light switch. Listening to her moving before me. Right here. Shoulders, sunken collars. Hidden. Right here. Breasts, inhaled flesh. Hidden. Right here. Waistline, the cloth falling further. Wait. Hidden. Right here. Knees. The night tints her from me again just when her dress teases the floor. The water joins my skin, she shares soft pelts with my thighs, chest, chin as she’s hovering above me, and she crawls her tiny bottom into my hands. And I grip her, vowing never to let these hours steal her from me again. And we look at one another in the still, the storm only granting bouts of her outline. Right here. Wet, thick hair clung to her neck. Gone again. Right here. Water dripping from her lower lip. Closer, now. Gone again. Right here. Goose bumps lining her skin. Stolen again. Ruby red. And then her chilled fingers are cupped against my neck, thumbs at my jaw, before my ears, after, threading up through my hair. “Right here.” And it’s too tiring to be angry with her, already I can taste the evening on her lips, the vodka diluted by the musk of the late morning hours and the watermelon mints piled in a nest beneath her tongue. Tonight, at least, she is mine.