Like pieces of a battered puzzle, we still fit, our minds and words interlocking, meshing. The years have burred our edges; where once we slid together neatly, becoming one, now there is friction in our union. But union it is, still. Is that enough? Is anything enough?
I leave. Again and again, I walk away. I close her door slowly, gently, as if doing so hurts us less. As the door swings, I watch her face through the shrinking gap, praying that she will not look up at me, praying that our eyes do not meet in the final moment before sight is snuffed out. Even this is torture enough, without those sad eyes on mine. Please don't look up. I'm so sorry. Why do I watch, every time? Why not turn away, slam the door, let the past wither?
The plane speeds south through the night. The window presses into my face as I search for patterns in the shrinking city lights. A ghostly reflection on the glass shows a tanktopped girl, seated behind, also peering down past the jet's wing. I peek through the gap, catch a glimpse: shimmery dark hair, smooth arms, cleavage, a waist. She leans forward, toward me, to retrieve a camera, and a breezy waft of shampoo and soap and woman punches me in the gut. She is travelling alone. Her face is invisible, but I know already that she is beautiful and that as we disembark our eyes will meet, I will find the courage to buy her an overpriced airport drink, we will laugh, and as morning nears our sweat will mix and limbs tangle...
We land, taxi, stop; passengers stand. I turn to see the woman in the white singlet top. She is barely adult, an awkward, forgettable young girl with lip-bulging braces and soft cheeks and darting eyes. The fantasy dissolves.
Was she the ghost I've been chasing? Am I chasing anything? Do I even move, or am I frozen while the world moves around me?
A dirty, cluttered garage. Lifting any object in here will bring dust and sneezing. I lie on the unmade mattress which crams one corner, and listen to sirens and planes and crying babies. A spider worries at its useless web across the room, legs waving randomly. Behind, on the wall, its silhouette copies every move, suddenly transforming one awkward creature into a pair of graceful ballerinas.
I smoke. Ugly plumes of exhalation drag themselves toward the ceiling. Every indrawn breath might be the one that catches inside, grabs hold, grows black and evil and slowly begins its stubborn choking march.
I stare at the ceiling, looking for an answer. The ceiling stares back.