Twenty-one days ago we’d never met.
“Wanna get married?” he asks today.
“What?” I ask.
I heard him, but you know.
“Huh?” he mimics back.
A lot can happen in three weeks.
In four dates.
“It’s an eventuality,” he says now.
I don’t respond.
I like this one, how confident he is about us.
But I’ve yet to trust what’s happening on the periphery.
The first night he brought me home, I had him blindfold me.
Before we crossed his threshold.
With a black and red scarf.
That I keep in my bag, it would seem, for just such occasions.
He took my hand and led me gently forward.
It was a superficial game of trust.
But there were elements of it for which I wasn’t prepared.
Primarily that our hands were a nice fit.
And that I didn’t want to let go.
He escorted me to the couch and sat me down, put his hands on either side of my unseeing face when he kissed it, and then withdrew.
“I’ll be right back,” he assured me.
And I sat there in darkness.
Knowing that even though I couldn’t see it, I had entered his world.
Knowing that soon his touch would return, and the blindfold would be taken.
There was a a tranquil lack of accountability preceding the unveiling.
An undisturbed beauty in the unknowing.
And something in me didn’t want it to end.
I didn’t know how to explain that maybe I wasn’t.
He eased the scarf from my eyes.
The light hit me far too hard, and I felt, right in that moment, a part of me retreat back into the darkness.
I’m continually aware of the hidden me now.
I feel her crouched in the shadows behind his furniture.
“Get back,” I want to tell her sometimes. “He might see you.”
We’re more or less complicit in her staying hidden.
She’s not certain that revealing herself is a good idea.
And I like that, because of her position, she can keep a lookout for me.
She can be the one to stay alert. While I let go and dance with him in the living room, get tipsy on his fine Italian wines, enjoy the tightening of his hand in my hair, she can track down what he has that could be used to hurt me.
When I compare myself to him, it’s horrible to recognize how little faith I have. I know the whens and whys of how that happened. But if I’m honest, he’s had it a lot harder than I have, and he just keeps showing up.
I don’t know how he does it.
“I’m looking for the real thing,” he tells me. “Never had it. Is it you?”
My eyes dart inadvertently to the antique trunk in the corner where I’m hiding.
“How would you know for sure it’s the real thing?” I ask. “How would it be different than what you’ve had?”
His eyes are blue like the bygone skies of childhood summers.
“Unconditional,” he tells me.
“Oh. Of course,” I answer.
“Of course,” he answers back.
Tonight he falls asleep as I glide my fingertips across the very brink of his skin.
“I get lost in your touch,” he murmurs, barely audible.
And then silence.
I wait until I’m sure he’s asleep. It’s not easy. He body never reaches a point of heavy relaxation. His breathing remains shallow—fight or flight.
I’m made sad by the intimacy of it.
The rough periods of his life have kept their hold, after all.
Still, eventually there is a small body shudder, and I know he’s gone deep.
I beckon with my hand, and hidden me slips out from the back of the closet.
Stands over him.
I think it is the first time she’s seen him up close.
“He’s beautiful,” she says, smiling.
“Isn’t he?” I confirm, and I’m smiling too.
She reaches a hand forward to brush his sweet beard.
“His hair is the same color as the straw bales. Remember?” she asks me.
A reference to a life we used to have.
When we were young.
And innocent too.
“We should get out of here,” I tell her.
She nods, but I can tell she’s reluctant.
I am too.
But I take her hand in mine and together we tiptoe out.
Sneak one last look back at him before we go.