He cried into the palms of my small hands, and I kissed his face to taste the wet saltiness. And the two shall become one – but I don’t commit to staying. Or spending the night. He takes me home, our hands glued tightly like a promise. Like a cast on a broken leg.
When can I see you again?
Haven’t you had enough of me yet?

We’re wrapping ourselves around each other at breathtaking speed. I don’t take any calls when I’m in his room, can’t remember the way to church when I’m in his room. My own fridge shines forth emptiness, not because I have no money to fill it, but because I don’t live there anymore. I drown myself in his company with only the letters of his name to keep me afloat. I drown myself like this, the same way I used to drown myself in solitude, in absolute. The only detriment I see is that I cannot remember my own name unless he says it out loud, which he rarely does.
I am “Babe”,
I am “Love”,
I am “Mine”.
I am “Beautiful, Sweet Girl with the Sacred P*ssy of a Woman”.

It’s not that he can’t get enough of me, but that he doesn’t want to. I beg him not to. He kisses me everywhere and I accept his reverence. This is why I don’t know how to leave. He needs me, I need him. Even when we’re choking each other with words and curses and silent treatments and the dramatic throwing of things and bodies to the floor. Cannabis smoke slithers up the walls and Mushroom Jazz crackles through two small speakers connected to his/my/our laptop. Dirty dishes layer the bottom of the sink and half-eaten toast feeds a young family of roaches. I drew him a sketch of flowers and he kept it, pasted it with Prestik on a corner of his mirror so he could always see it. These four walls house our pleasure and strife, our heated emotion and scorned indifference, our blindness against the glare of short-lived passions and novelties. My head spins always. We say we love each other but we’re only making silk. Closing ourselves off to the world outside of his one-bedroom apartment on the quiet side of town where no one can hear us crying into each other.

This was an experiment when it began. How far would I need to go to get this man to renounce all that he knows and devote himself to me? Rhetorical question. Rather, how long would it take for this to happen? I went to him twice a week, then thrice, then I couldn’t stay away. Couldn’t leave at all. In my experiment, I became so enveloped in my subject that I became his object of hope and peace of mind. There was an emotional labour that I endured for the sake of earning my crown as both saviour and kryptonite. In turn, there was a frustration that he released against me through sharp, acidic words; and into me through phallic expressions of apology and regret. A blackened heart at the centre of the four walls beat softly, almost inaudibly.

We called it Love.
We were killing each other too discreetly to stop at once.
Biting at each other’s
skins hard enough to draw blood and pleasure,
but not too much to leave permanent scars.

He would hate to wear a shirt in my presence. Smile like a child every time he pointed at a mark on his back or his chest or his bicep and said, this is you. As if I had become an inseparable part of him. Devoted. I smiled back – I still wanted to leave. The experiment had gone too far. The two had become one mass of inexorably flawed flesh.

On a rainy night, he held me and asked me to tell him how I feel. I said nothing. He got annoyed with me for keeping from him the one thing I wouldn’t give. Nothing tangible, nothing he could taste, touch, tease, nibble, please. In my heart, I knew that I would eventually need to leave his place and never come back. I would need to return to myself and remember my name, remember the way home, remember the lines and dimples on my friends’ faces. I would need to tear myself away from my deity/devotee. I kept him out of my heart. He could have my body but nothing else. He kissed me many times, trying to coax confessions out of me, but I feigned sleep and listened, through his chest, to his heartbeat.
I wasn’t sure how we would make it out of this. Whether we would wait in the dark for the cocoon to break us free into something completely different, or if we would need to break it apart before it’s time to retrieve from it something of value. Something that required a death from us both: a lesson learned the hard way.

It was on a Sunday morning that I packed my things and walked out his door for good. I trusted this Sunday. I trusted that the glow of the morning sun behind grey clouds would give me enough energy to keep walking. He offered to help me with my things, but I assured him that I would be okay. That we’d both be okay. I had to leave him behind otherwise I wasn’t leaving. At home, I switched on the light even though it was not yet dark outside. It came on after one hesitant twitch. There was dust on my mirror, mould on a teabag in a cup I left when he came to fetch me three weeks ago. Cobwebs under the bed, around the legs of the chair. I drew my index finger along the surface of the study table and it left a trail. The first thing I was supposed to do was clean from wall to wall, but nothing in it felt at once as filthy, stuffy, and as thoroughly invalid as everything beneath my skin. I sat on my bed and for half an hour or so, I cried. The first thing I wiped down with an old cloth and a bucket of steaming soapy water was the mirror. I prayed that it would shatter so that I wouldn’t have to look at myself and see him staring back with forlorn eyes.

Your presence in my life has encouraged me to see things differently.
I want to be different because of you
. I want to be a better person for you.
Because of how you make me feel.

He said this and my heart sank and floated at the same time. I couldn’t trust any significant thing he said when it was carried on the same breath that carried the scent of my cervix. We had learned the art of lying to each other by lying to ourselves. And yet I know that in a different way he cared about me… because I cared about him too. The second thing that needed my attention were the dirty dishes and my empty fridge. After the chores, I took a long shower, got dressed, and stepped out into the settling darkness to get groceries. Just a few basics: noodles, bread, juice, meat, vegetables, fruit. For supper, instant Morvite porridge with no sugar. He texted me before bedtime and asked me once more,
Are you sure this is what you want?
I sat up on my bed to type. It’s only been a month, but I’ve lost weight in both my body and my soul. There is nothing in my room that feels familiar and that’s not okay. Even worse than this is that there is nothing about me that feels familiar either. I was so wrapped up in you, and you so wrapped up in me… One of us had to pull away before we were both lost forever. There has been blinding pleasure, excitement, fighting and severe frustration. There has been festering and invisible rot, but sometimes things were really beautiful too – we’ve made each other laugh over morning coffee and toast. I ripped my cervix open to make more room for you, and I was naïve enough to believe that that pain/pleasure would be my only loss/gain.

None of what we had was truly love. I’ve lost too much, I feel tired. Please let me sleep, please let me go.
For now, he said.
But not for ever.

And I never heard from him again.

















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