Her eyes closed tightly, their corners crinkled up like a chocolate candy wrapper twisted round its treasure.
Part of the the land of if collection
The sound of the wicker papasan creaking, shifting, hitting the sliding mirror closet door – click, click, click. Her breath, quickly, matching your pace. Her fingers gripping, grasping, leaving red marks on your biceps; upon these arms you’re balanced, suspended above her, a lever on the fulcrum of your feet. She sighs. She moans. The fan’s blowing on low. Your iMac on the desk, it sings something with a dance beat, a metronome for your movements, Sneaker Pimps remixed, perhaps. Untz, Untz, Untz. And there’s that empty glass of absinthe and a half-smoked clove. That short black schoolgirl skirt – the skirt of your thousand sins – lies worn, unworn, donned and disrobed, on that ugly, dirty greenish carpet.
The papasan slips and shifts, loudly, without warning, and her eyes fly open.
Don’t let me –, she starts.
– I’ve got you, you answer without pause or pretense, and her eyes are closed again, with a laugh and her lips turning up. You feel her tightening against you, her thighs clutching you more closely, and her fingers, they were clutching you as they would a liferaft, now they soften, begin to curl into their own smile.
You barely hear what she says. And it is quick, like a trap springing shut.
I love you.
But you know what it was. Still above her, still within her, still moving to the meter of the moment and the music, you tell her to say it again.
But there’s the sound of the papasan creaking, shifting, click-click-clicking. There’s the pace of her breath, the fan’s low hum. The beat of trip-hop in your ears. The rising baritone arc of her sighs. Her lips forming unchosen words into phrases too quiet to be whispers.
She does not repeat those three words. Her secret, her reckless secret, loose for only a moment. But she cannot take it back from you. She cannot remove it from that place in your mind, the afterimage of a sun floating on your thoughts. It is there, singular, and it will not go from you. The best it offers is to take a back seat to the moment spread open before you, theatre light spilling out from the projector, a story unfolding around two whose attention falls not on the screen but to these sensations. To each other, to yourselves, to what is within, nascent, arriving.
You take, you devour, you consume – her. And she, in accepting all of your hunger into herself, she consumes and devours you. Greedily. Soul feeding upon soul. There is no hesitance or shame. The mid-afternoon thunderstorm crackles and rumbles on the window glass.
And there is the mirror, reflecting you back upon yourselves. That single yellow rose – long ago dry – shining out the top of an empty bottle of fine tonic water. That OfficeMax desk chair, in places worn to a sheen from hard use. There’s a Bible, closed, on the other edge of the floor. Neruda lies spread-eagle and perilously close to the corner of the desk. The Riddle of the Sphinx is below the two of you, mounting a well-highlighted copy of Rousseau’s Social Contract – and it does neither complain of its place, nor solve any puzzles that are made in these minutes.
You will bring her here. She will fight you, but she does not want to fight you. You will bring her here.
Among the papasans and paperbacks. The music, and this moment. She will bring you back.