The hacker likes me, I suspect, for all of the things he can’t have from me, for all of the things I don’t give him. He doesn’t like me because I make him feel complete; he likes me because I make him feel desperate. He likes me because he can’t take my pulse, track my rhythm, crack my code.

“My therapist suggested that I’m attracted to you because you remind me of myself,” he mentions, sprawled out in front of the fire. On a large blanket. In the quiet and empty house he apparently just bought.

We’re here because six days ago I proposed a barren-landscape picnic. We’re here because three weeks ago I showed up in his hotel room in New York City. We’re here because two months ago—or, as he tells it, three—I broke into his apartment, and disrupted his psyche enough that he’s still interested.

The suggestion that we’re similar doesn’t initially resonate, and my first thought is that he’s just flattering himself. (Okay, we’re both self-confessed narcissists; that much is true.) But then I realize that he, like me—like everyone, perhaps—contains multitudes, of which I really only know one.

The one I know is named Jack. That is, Jack is the name I gave him, after he said something about either fucking or DJing—I can’t remember which, perhaps both—like a jackhammer, at 140 beats per minute.

Jack has mad skills, a sharp mind, a strong body. Most importantly, Jack is adroit at walking the intricate line between praise-adoring me and giving me not even an inch.

As regards his therapist, and the dialogue Jack—who has long since told me his name is not Jack—is trying to have with me, I know what he’s seeking there. He’s brought up a thousand conversations like this before. He wants to know what he is to me. A past-time? A distraction? Is he penetrating me at all?

And because I am one step ahead of him in this way, and enjoy staying one step ahead, I turn the discussion down a side alley. Park the car.

Attraction is a tricky thing for me. While none of my multitudes are in any way complimented by being a part of a unit, several of them advance more quickly under the close scrutiny of a challenging man, and the majority of them delight in occasionally outrunning someone I ought not to be able. I mean, of course.

As such, I haven’t revealed anything—not even my first name—to Jack. Rather, I long to be for him a concentrated study in all things unknown, the black forest landscape of his unconscious.

“Your therapist hasn’t figured out yet that I’m just an escape?” I offer.

Jack laughs, loudly, rolls over on his side, delicately brushes the hair out of my face before grabbing the back of my neck and yanking.

“Stop that,” he whispers, threateningly.

“Never,” I taunt.

He growls. I flex my fingers.

I fully expect to leave scars on this man’s body.




7 thoughts on “balance

  1. I find that’s always the challenge … mixing the praise and the adoration with a measured sternness. I think that’s what interests me … the fluidity of getting the recipe just so.

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