Smoke and Mirrors

Every day I live a deception of convenience. I blind myself with the bright and brittle moments that make up life, so that I can't see a dark strand of her hair, wound around her finger as she waits for class to end. My face is hard enamel and my eyes are full of nails. I am in control, but I pray to a god I no longer believe in that she won't notice me staring. That she'll notice me staring. She is achingly beautiful.

Her eyes? Her eyes are full of sex. Once I watched her sleeping, and when I realized that I wanted to kiss her I sank my teeth into the back of my hand and pressed my eyes closed. Later she laughed and asked me about the scattered drops of blood on the sheets. Someone always cares more, and I am that someone, and she is the puppet master with her musty red velvet and gleaming brass buttons. She has strings on her fingers, curly black strands of hair that she plays with as she leans her head on her hand in the corner of second period French. My glance is like a lover's, but I loathe the thought of wanting her.

Her eyes are full of the echoes of tears, spilled together. They are full of history.

When I was sixteen I carved a word into my ankle and she into the smooth skin of her upper arm, and we laughed at the glittering pain and felt hollow together, and then we could cling to one another. Because I miss her hands, smooth on my face, I bury myself in silly little pantomimes of love with boyish men. These often end badly. She is my sordid past, my everyday, and she holds a hundred clumsy firsts in her eyes. Sometimes we'll look at each other with mischief, with silence, no need for words in a joke we both understand, and I am consumed by her. She is achingly beautiful, but someone cares more and I am someone.

We swam in the ocean at midnight, shedding our clothes and running into black water so cold on bare skin that we screamed and rubbed our arms. Then we lay side by side in cool hollows in the sand, freezing and exhausted, sipping coffee from a stained white thermos. Later she kissed her boyfriend in a parking lot, and I laughed and nudged them. Get a room, you two, some old and stale joke. I melted, splashed on the ground and soaked into the waterlogged cement. Sometimes her boyfriend and I watch each other behind her back, unspoken and shared gazes, winner and loser of what we'll never say aloud. We each have our separate places in her eyes, and she has strings tied to her fingers. She sat with me under a flickering orange streetlight when I finally cried for my father, catching my tears with her fingers and spreading them, like glittering bits of broken glass, across her face.

Her eyes are full of sex and glass and tears and smoke and strings on her fingers, and she is achingly beautiful. She is beautiful, and that is my deception.