When you say you’ll be over soon, I want to say that you can only come over if you promise to communicate. Instead, I say, “bring wine.” When you ask red or white, I say for you to pick. Red; red means purple mouth like bruises still fading out.
We are existing in that tense before-the-end.
Holding one another for hours. I don’t know why it makes me so anxious to lie there in silence; I’m flinching away from intimacy like it had any intention of being rough with me.
I don’t know if I really like it rough anymore or if I’m scared I’ll break under soft touch. We are breaking, but I’m still keeping you close enough to draw blood.
The silence is pooling around us and at least one of us is drowning. The little bit that you do say is coy as oil floating on top of the water. You slip into my skin for a moment like dipping your foot in, testing the waters, and I say, “There’s a storm coming but it isn’t here. It isn’t in the room yet.” The street blunders on outside, and I am so irritated.
In an I-don’t understand-how-you-aren’t-unsettled-by-this way.
In an I’m-not-practiced-in-intimacy-without-an-endgame way.
The reasons I’m irritated are piling around us, making mountains on my bed. Every time you visit, I dim the lights hoping to glimpse sparks and avoid your eyes. Climbing to ridiculous heights in the dark—I’m not brave enough for any of this.
I’m unlocking your thoughts with keys I picked out of my own garbage, but we avoid talking about what is happening as though the words could eat us whole. Just trying to teach my fingertips patience with you, but there is a lump in my throat that makes it easier to smirk than tell the truth.
I say, “don’t fall asleep.” Instead of, “don’t leave.”
You make a reference to my favorite book, say that we can practice speaking without words. I fall quiet, and I can feel you recoil into yourself. I have so many things I want to say, but I don’t know if you would hear any of them. I don’t know if I say them in the right key yet. There may not be any sounds we can share.
People have left so many skidmarks on the road of me, and I’m tired of being a rotating door of “this meant nothing.” You are tracing words into me and I am hearing “this means nothing.”
You tell me not to pout as you put on your shoes and you kiss me before you leave.
Minutes later, still unsettled, I text you, “I’m sorry, I drank and I’m tired and I like your company.” I mean, “I’m sorry that I would stay up for hours with you if you wanted me to.” I mean, “I am sad you didn’t want me to.” I’m left restless, so I get up with my headphones and no jacket and walk around this freezing campus so that I can numb. I want to call you, ask you if we can just drive around.
I want to say, even though I know you’re asleep by now,
“We can even walk in silence. I just want to go somewhere I can scream.
Be loud with me.”
Torii Johnson is an English and Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies double major at Wesleyan University. Self-described anxious writer, intersectional feminist, annoyed bisexual, femme witch, caffeine enthusiast. She runs her personal blog, has contributed to Helloflo and Vagabond City Lit. If you’re interested in her tweets, which you should be, her handle’s @toriisavannah.