I know I shouldn’t. I should put down the phone and walk away from it. But its bright screen beckons me and I fail to resist. I scroll down until I see what I want. My finger hovers over the blue call button and my insides fight me, but the alcohol has made me brave. Maybe I’ll regret this later but for right now all I see is his name in bold type print and my finger slips, almost as if on accident but I know better.
One ring. Two rings. Three. I hold my breath.
He sounds so confused, baffled even. I hear music in the background, a rowdiness I never associated him with and I’m silent. I’ve stunned myself with my own stupidity, regret washes over me for a second.
“Hello? You there?”
I find my voice finally. “Uh yea I’m here. Look I know this sounds crazy. But I wanted to know if you would come over tonight”.
“Why?” He sounds confused, suspicious.
He has every right to ask why. Why after all these months I decide now to reach out with an arbitrary request like this.
The alcohol has made me bold so I ignore his tone. “Look, it’s a yes or no question. If you don’t want to come over, then don’t. But if you do, the door will be open like always”. Click.
Like always. More like, “Like before”.
I put the phone down and rest my head back onto my furry pillow. The room spins a little, but my mind is stationary, focusing on “what the hell did you just do?” but I quell the voice and close my eyes.
I’m startled awake. I hear the door close. A soft thud, but a noticeable one. I’m alert at once, frozen, unsure what to do.
My bedroom door creeks open slowly, the peek of light from the kitchen radiating in, making me squint.
That’s when I see him. Despite this being the direct result of my own doing, I am dumbfounded. He really came.
I get up halfway and lean onto my elbows, and we look at each other saying no words.
I haven’t seen him in so long, and it feels like a complete stranger has entered my presence.
His hair is shorter than usual, his beard now clean cut instead of wild. His dark eyes are the same, but tonight he wears a long blue shirt, one I haven’t ever seen.
He stands there, not moving, not knowing what to do. It seems like he’s internally debating whether to leave now or to stay, maybe baffled at his own choice to come at all. Maybe questioning how over it he himself was.
Unsure what to do, but secretly scared he’ll actually leave, I wave him over with one hand.
He hesitates, then he slowly makes his way to the bed where we used to lay, make love, and stay up talking in.
He climbs onto the bed and stays at the very end for what feels like eternity. The tension in the room is almost uncomfortable, and at that moment I realize how much it feels like we are completely different people. Who’s party was he at? Where does he work nowadays? He hated shopping, who got him that shirt? Thoughts upon thoughts besiege me and I almost forget he’s there and that his eyes have strayed, now looking around the room for a distraction. Neither of us speak, let alone question why I called, what my intention was, or what we’re doing right now at all.
“Come here.” My own voice startles me. It sounds so foreign, so grand almost as if it echoes in this dark room and he wasn’t expecting the silence to be broken either.
But it’s broken already, crumpled on the ground and I see him shift his weight toward me. He moves in my direction, positioning himself right above me, right by my legs.
I look up at him and study his face. I used to know this face better than my own, but now the eyes that look back at me feel different, look at me different. Where there was once love and lust and care, it’s been replaced by this detached almost morose distance. He’s right there but he feels so far away and at the moment I can’t stand it. It boils my blood, it fills me with an anxious energy I can’t extinguish.
But I try. I link my legs around his waist and pull him on top of me, me futilely attempting to feel him again, to know him once more. To recreate what we once had.
The tension is replaced with a new tension, an energy that is frantic and chaotic. His hands grab every curve, but somehow all I can think of is how different his hands feel. They feel tougher, more calloused. His body feels like stone under my hand, but instead of arousing me it almost repels me. I don’t recognize the man in front of me, either a result of time, distance, or heartache.
But our bodies ignore the evident, pushing against one another so rampantly it’s as if we’re desperately trying to cause a fire with the friction, to reignite a connection that died on impact long ago.
I feel the roughness of his denim thrusting against my apex, the smoothness of his tongue on my mouth threatening to swallow me whole.
But all I want to do is stop thinking. All I want to do is feel him and lose myself in him, let myself melt in us again, but my overactive mind is unable to stop.
So I fight against my mind and scratch at his back until my fingers find his shirt’s hem. I pull up in one swift motion, pulling his shirt over his head like I have a thousand times before, long ago. Soon enough I hear his zipper being undone and feel his calloused hands pulling off my shorts and underwear in one swift motion.
This isn’t like before. Before felt like kisses and savoring and melting into one another with each article of clothing falling away slowly and methodically. But now he pulls off my clothes like a drunken hook up, like I’m a girl he met at a bar. He doesn’t enjoy me, he doesn’t savor us, his mouth and hands move in a way I don’t remember, startling me with their foreignness.
His pants and boxers are on the floor now and he feels so close to me now, yet ironically so far away. I feel him hovering over me at my center. I wait for him to rush into me with the speed and ferociousness he has exhibited so far, but he lingers. He stays there, not in a sexy way, but he looks at me for a second too long. Our eyes meet and the look in his eyes is almost sad, like he’s questioning what we’re doing at all. But he catches himself deep in thought and the moment is over at once, and then in one swift motion he’s inside of me, causing an involuntary exhale of air to leave my mouth. He pierces my soft center with a quickness and chaos that is unknown to me. It almost feels as if he’s angry, the way he thrusts into me, a few grunts here and there, but unable to meet my eyes anymore. And in a quick and unexpected moment he’s turned me over, taking me from behind again with the same ferocious energy. I lean onto my hands and the sensation isn’t even pleasurable, but I wait for him to finish. He stops abruptly, but not for what I think.
I turn around and he’s leaned over, his face in his hands. I’m confused, but unsure what’s going on.
“I can’t do this. I really can’t”.
The silence in the room is heavy. Heavy with vivid memories and broken promises. I see him there and I see for once what I failed to see before: That I broke him.
He doesn’t want to show any weakness, surely not in front of me of all people at this point, but he sits there trying to reconcile his own conflicted feelings. Trying to separate what was made to seem like a harmless hook up with an ex that is clearly revealed itself to be masochism at best with a person you’re trying so hard to separate yourself from, to free yourself from. I’ve broken him.
I know any minute now he’ll get his things and leave. And when he leaves we’ll never be like this together again, just the union of our eyes as we see each other from across the street in our shared city. And in that moment I can’t let it end like this. I can’t let him leave feeling broken, feeling vulnerable, feeling like the girl that he was in love with saw him crack and sat idle as all the wildflowers poured from his concrete surface for a moment.
Without any forethought I feel myself push myself onto his lap.
The look on his face is bewildered and I almost see him about to push me off.
“I told you, I can’t.“ My mouth crushes against his lips, subsuming his and silencing him all at once. This kiss feels different. Not the same kiss privy to our oldest memories and not the kiss shared by the two strangers who fucked only moments ago.
This kiss is love and pain and goodbye all wrapped up in one. It is neither the kiss shared by two lovers who know nothing of pain, who don’t bother entertaining thoughts of ever being apart. And it neither the kiss between two exes who have bitterness and resentment on their tongues with arguments that were never resolved and fights never won. This kiss is electric, it is an ocean of feeling that holds neither innocence or hate. It is one between two familiar strangers who know this is as close as they will ever be to each other ever again.
So he doesn’t fight me when I position my apex over him. When I rise above him, our mouths separating, able to breathe outside air again he looks up at me with a look I have never seen before. Like he’s trying to memorize all my features, like he’s never seen me before and will somehow never see me again. His eyes are soft, almost vulnerable, truly knowing the fleetingness of this moment. The value it has. And in knowing this value there is a substantial amount of pain associated with it, but he ignores it for now. He ignores it so he can remember how she looks in this light, how soft her skin is under his touch, even how she smells. She always smelt divine. But tonight she’s something else. She’s a rare, wild, beautiful sight and she’s all he wants to see, all he’s wanted to see for months.
He tried for so long to harden himself from her. To distance himself, to immerse himself in new activities that felt different, that made him feel like a new person. He took up rock climbing, got into the gym, learned a new language, and even bought new clothes so that when he wore his favorite hoodie he wouldn’t see her on his living room floor wearing it with the hood on so tight all he can see are her dark brown eyes. He tried to get over her, and for a while now he felt like himself again, or as himself as the new version of him could muster. But one call from her made months’ worth of progress fall like a stone wall. He had believed he had succeeded in consolidating his armor against her, but the sound of her voice on that call made concrete fall like dust. She broke him and she made it look easy, she made it look effortless, she made it look enchanting.
In one quick motion I push down onto him and I feel his hands grip my thighs. His grasp isn’t firm, it’s a light touch, but I know he’s there. I move up and down in a slow motion, both of us making no fast movements. We savor each other, slowly and smoothly, like we never want to the moment to end, like the world has stopped. We aren’t fucking. We’re making love. We’re holding on one last time before we let go for good and we both know it. Our kisses are soft and plentiful, his supple lips on mine are addicting. But soon I want more and I find myself going higher and higher, rising up and down with more force and energy as before. We’re still making love, but now with a passion that we both can’t contain. I feel his grip on my butt firm up to the point it almost hurts, I elongate my neck and the only noise is the light moans that escape my throat. It’s getting to be too much for him and when I look down at his face as we approach an inevitable end his eyes arrest me. His eyes are lit up with adoration and fascination, a softness and a love that he can’t hide. It’s not lust. It’s deep-seated love that finally broke through his surface, one that ran so deep he could not contain it. One that probably never left his system.
Our eyes remain locked for the final motions and I hear his gasp as he releases inside of me. His grip loosens but never leaves me, his arms wrap around me and holds me close to him as we both exhale, sweat glistening on both our bodies.
We stay here in this position for what feels like forever. We know the second we separate, when we pick up our clothes off the floor, and let the light of the room punctures the memory of tonight to let the real world seep in, that it’s really over. So we hold on for as long as we can, with my head on his bare shoulder and he rubs my back in small circles, and we will the world to stop so we can linger here where exes and lovers are one and the same.