he first saw her in a river of tears– red eyed, silent. that was the first time their gazes locked. since that moment (last year, around january. dead of winter, the sky blank and white, the way he pictured his third eye might be) he’s had the pleasure of her tortured stare forty-three times, he’s noticed every change of her hair, and it has changed drastically. he didn’t know her name. (but she knew his, because his restaurant was in the town newspaper, the article taped to the inside of the then vacant window. when she saw it, she ran her fingers over his blurry printed face, rolled his name over in her mouth, it was uncomfortable but not foreign:) he had the same name as the last boy she had slept with, it was a name she had to stop herself from saying all the time, that odd two-or-three week period where everyone and everything you are around is this missing person in your life, swollen replacement entities that your body wants to reject, still drawn to the comfort of the shared relationship bed. (she tried to curl her fingers around the neatly trimmed paper, but it was trapped by the glass.) and suddenly, it had begun: this torrid, metaphysical love affair.
a thousand questions crept up inside of him, sticking to each other, viscous soapy bubbles. he kept his mouth shut every time she passed him, in case one escaped, floated up into the air, bursting on a tree branch, the words unintelligible from up that high. through the winter, wrapped up in coats, she grew shaky and sick. he wanted to press her up to his body heat and warm her insides. but knew, was petrified if, he touched her, it’d be all over– the dizzy magic breath filling the cavities of every hole each cigarette burnt in his lungs and esophagus, disappearing. the food he made that turned to dust in his mouth, that suddenly smelled fragrant and lovely and tasted like angels, it would be all over. she would stop seeing his deep dark eyes in people, stop craving his touch, lips hands fingers, even the thoughts he was thinking at this very moment were severing it, they were cracking at his bones and ripping them apart.
he no longer wondered why relationships fell apart, why the buildup to the first kiss was so much better than the actual touching of the lips, how after the lips touch, he was just counting the minutes till it was over, maybe he’d just been kissing the wrong people. maybe he now knew what was so thrilling about the forbidden, and why after the coming clean, the passion ends. why no one grew old in their lovers’ arms anymore. knew now that this existential frustration, the hot, pulsing blood filling his veins sketching out her face and filling the sockets of her eyes, was all of it.
he wondered if anyone pictured a pure and perfect love, hand-molded and raw and bleeding and served on a wood cutting board, stabbed with a steak knife. he thought of everything in terms of food, and dreamt of a forever in the kitchen, of a love like a slab of meat, held with his tenderness; he now holds all the potential of the universe in his hands.
he wrapped his arms around his body, hands intertwining behind his back, blood pooling in his center, covering the white of his third eye, draining from his fingertips. and he knew, had never been more sure of anything in his life, that somewhere, maybe sitting on a bench, maybe with a cigarette in her mouth, maybe her head buried in another’s chest, she had broken away and was doing the same.