He is beautiful, new, unexplored. He has wanted to kiss her ever since they met one week ago and fell prey to helpless chemistry.

“Don’t,” she says, moving her hands in a unconscious “yes” pattern along his arm as he rubs his cheek against hers. “You don’t even know my favourite colour.” The wind cuts through her thin jacket, and his chest is so warm.

“Red,” he guesses, improbably correct. His ears are cold.

“And how many dogs do I have?”

“Two,” he says, and she laughs wildly at his luck as he nuzzles her neck.

“I’m trying to save you,” she tells him, pushing fruitlessly against his broad shoulders. “So you don’t wake up tomorrow and regret this.” He smiles, cupping the back of her head and pulling her to him so their lips brush.

Maybe I don’t want to be saved.

---

The sun shines the next morning in an artificially happy way; the gravel is especially sharp against her bare feet. Bewildered but happy, she stands on her tiptoes to hug him goodbye. “If I ever see you again, I-“ he stops her with a kiss.

“When you see me again. ‘When,’ not ‘if.’”

The next day as she spills a bottle of peppermint syrup down her apron at the local coffee shop, he shows up and orders a large latte and a kiss.

---

It took one month before they began to officially date, and a couple more after that before he whispered “I love you.”

But in retrospect, it had only taken an hour with him to know that he would change her life forever.

---

“Why don’t you write anymore?” he asks from the loft above her. She petulantly puts down her pen and sighs.

“I can’t think of anything to say. I have no words left.”

He slits open his eyes and quirks his mouth. “You stopped writing when you met me.”

She neither confirms nor denies the statement. She instead clambers up next to him and tugs on his foot thoughtfully. “I’ll start writing again.” A grin spreads across her face. “Will you still think well on me? When I’m a famous author and all?” She tosses her hair around, and he grabs her hands in his and pulls her down so she topples over on him.

“Well, I’ll be married to you, so I think that’s a yes.”

He releases her and throws himself backwards on the pillow. She cuts off the overhead light and smiles at the ceiling, listening to the bedroom noises long after his breathing becomes deep and regular.

---

“You deserve better,” he tells her. “I’m nothing. I’m worthless. You deserve someone…perfect.”

I don’t want perfect, I just want you.”

---

The frequent fights have begun to take their toll.

The most recent left her almost as breathless as the makeup sex. Both were frantic, driven by anger, and painful. She lies quietly next to him, one hand resting lightly on his ribs, and makes no sudden movements. She can’t afford to scare him away after fighting so hard to keep him.

“I’ve started smoking pot again,” he whispers into the silence of the room. She cannot respond to this, and so she says nothing.

What he does not have to say: I am weak.

What she does not have to respond: I know.

---

She can’t keep herself from kissing him, can almost talk herself into believing that because he is unhooking her bra this will all turn out ok. She will live happily ever after. Their hands fumble, quick and practiced, but it feels wrong this time.

“Are you sure we should be doing this?” she asks, running her lips along his jaw. “Are you going to stay with me? Am I going to stay with you?”

“Does it matter right now?” he asks, his palms sliding almost lovingly against the curves of her waist.

Afterwards as he pulls on a pair of boxers, she becomes starkly aware, for the first time, of her nudity, her vulnerability. “We shouldn’t have done that,” he says, shaking his head. Then—“I think we should take a break.”

So it did matter, she realizes, watching the grey evening light slip through the venetian blinds and over her naked body. It mattered more than anything.

---

The Saturday seems like every other Saturday they’ve spent together over the past 14 months, except he is curled in a chair, futilely avoiding the elephant in the room, and she has welcomed it with open arms.

“Look, I’m sorry,” he says forcefully. “This isn’t going to work. I need freedom. I can’t worry about some girlfriend.” His voice is thick and foreign.

She stares at his familiar face, the soft arches of his eyebrows, the strong jaw. It is melting into something unrecognizable.

“I don’t want to end up as a piece of your writing.” He smiles wryly. “But I know that someday you’re going to make a million dollars off of a story about how I broke your heart.”

“You promised you wouldn’t be the one to break it,” she says desperately, feeling incredibly pathetic but unable to stop stumbling towards destruction. The rain beats against the windows, matching the steady tattoo of her heart beating against her ribcage.

I tell lies,” he says quietly, and looks away.

She looks closely at this boy she thought she knew, and begins to think that maybe, finally, he has told her the truth.

Her car keys are cutting into the palms of her hands. Her necklace is too taut against her throat. She watches her life break down like one watches a car accident, with morbid curiosity. She has looked back and been struck useless. She is a pillar of salt.

“I think you’ll regret doing this,” she says, and forces her body to take one step towards the door.
“Probably.”

“Then why are you doing it?”

“Because I don’t regret it right now.”

---

Someday she will meet an amazing boy, beautiful, new, and unexplored. He will kiss her neck and hold her hand in public, know that her new favourite colour is green, and that she only has one dog now. He will love her.

She puts pen to paper—

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