Reports of lovers' trysts
Were neither clear nor descript
We kept it safe and slow
The quiet things that no one ever knows

-Brand New, The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows

"Come on inside," said Tiffany. "I want you to meet Sam."

The heady excitement of my first date with a new girl mixed with the cool, mysterious calm that always seems to come around at 11:30 on early October nights. I wasn't exactly sure what I was feeling, but I did know that the beautiful girl I had spent the evening with was inviting me inside her parents' house to meet her family. That felt pretty good.

Much of Tiffany's half of the night's conversation had been devoted to her two-year old half-brother; how she had put off attending a four-year university so she could stay at home and help her stepmother raise him, how he woke her up at exactly 6:00 every morning, how she would really miss him next year when her two-year stay at the local community college ended. After making with the introductions to her folks, the four of us crept into the master bedroom.

Sam lay in the exact center of his parents' bed, his head in the crease between the two pillows. Tiffany later told me he had spent the entire day at the zoo. The four of us, Tiffany and I on one side, her father and stepmother on the other, hovered around the bed, mesmerised by the innocence of a two-year-old boy sleeping. Tiffany bent over and kissed his forehead. Something between a bottomless pit and a knot formed in my stomach.

I had known Tiffany for less than a month, but on this night I was ushered into her life, meeting her parents and watching her little brother sleep. I had taken Tiffany on a single date, and here I was at the ground level of her universe. What had I done to earn all this?

The walls of the house were covered with pictures of Tiffany and Sam. Tiffany and Sam playing outside. Tiffany and Sam at the beach. Whether I was an obvserver or a participant in this world, I was not yet sure. Walking through the house, looking at those pictures, I felt strangely detatched. It was as if my consciousness was floating outside my body, and I was watching myself partake of something far too intimate to be real.

I was a stranger in a strange land.

In the time Tiffany and I were together, I never had the chance to see Sam when he was awake. My only memory of Sam is of him asleep in the master bedroom, blissfully unaware of the world around him. Unaware of my existence, while I was keenly aware of his.

There have been many times since, when thinking of Tiffany and the love we shared, I think of Sam, lying prostrate on the bed that was much too big for him. Even then, it did not escape me that our respective worlds were passing each other like two ships in the night. It was a moment I will never forget, yet it is something he will never remember. Socrates could never think of a word to describe a paradox so simple, yet so profound.

Truly, it was one of the quiet things that no one ever knows.

There are words for these things but the words don't matter.

You: slinking in ruby toed barefoot mantras over the floorboards like a cat, knitted beige threads over skin your lineage had married to the warmer months, the long July fires of your arms ignited into motion, sparks trailing in your wake; a quality of realization.

Summertime board games, prank phone calls, speaking anorexia in tongues and eating the night itself, your white lacy curtains wrapped around the air like a wedding dress; I watched you sleepwalk, open the fridge, mumble an apology. I wonder if I am dreaming you perfect.

I remember your tiny kitchen table with its bowl of tiny oranges, everything about you was where small liked to linger. Clothes clung to your body like some foreign kitsch; a fad you never learned to love. The post-it note in your bathroom mirror says "this doesn't matter". And it doesn't, but it's like money-- tasteless yet useful. I want to hate you.

But like clockwork, when I coax magic from the glass, clouds part; my skull blooms like an African violet. Clarity drags her tender tongue up the spine of my inhibition, taps
her glossy language in code, lapping in liquid braille til my belly deciphers, a flurry of invocation caked in my soft little guts:

I would follow her to the ends of the earth.

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