We sat up each of those five brief nights of our affair. We stayed up far later than we should have, and I was a beaming, laughing mess each morning after. I was sleep-deprived and happy in our dream.
Each day we made maps of the stars for our living; each night we lay stretched out beneath your wood-paneled window, savoring the cool breezes that made the tropics more bearable, whispering quietly over the hum of the attending amphibian choir.
You once asked me to lay out my hands on your skin. I did; I brushed the tips of my fingers over the soft white flesh of your back, tracing the stories I had yet to tell you – the stories that, in the end, I never would. You lay quietly still on thin cool sheets, and I sat by your side, lightly drawing, always drawing, my nails faintly raking your shoulders with pictures I could never imagine.
We were both hooked from the instant I started.
You caught me that way, and I imagined that I might be trapping you, if only I could make you dependent on the pleasure I knew you loved. I grew to know the one smooth arch of your back, sliding down from the base of your neck, over thick, strong shoulders, down into the valley of your waist and back up through to your naked hip. One quick turn up to your spine completed the circle, and it was up, down, around once more. Over and over and over. Each night, I felt that motion one hundred times, and almost cried, to know how much I loved it, wondering how long it would be before I’d come to hate it.
I clung onto you so hard. The more lightly my outstretched hands would trace, the harder and harder I was preparing to not let you go.
You left anyway.
After the end of our affair we sat up still some nights together, but in entirely different ways. I would sit, silent, and let the abstract pictures I’d been making on your body digress into words that grew angrier and angrier, caught up in the visions of what your skin used to mean. And you lay still, nearly falling asleep, as I failed to acknowledge how completely disinterested in everything having to do with me you were, you were, except for in the feel of my hands swiftly tracing.
Our affair of five short, lonely days turned into two months in my head, as I sold off my soul and my pride in the act of docilely, stoically nursing your muscles with the bile of my retching and frustrated liver. I sold myself for what I thought I really needed. When what I needed was all the strength I was so casually giving away.
I should have known that it was doomed the night I asked you to touch me too, and draw into my flesh the care I hoped you might still be holding, but that you were too lost in guilt to admit. You said that you were tired, but you had no idea. You had no concept of what tired could really be, as I sat there still, too enchanted to recognize my own self-betrayal, hauntingly writing more ghost words on your thin, thin skin even after you refused to do the same, never realizing what I was giving away for the sake of my hope in a dream I never had.