I know no one is filming this, but sometimes I like to stare out of my window for too long anyway, I like to imagine that you’re standing on the sidewalk below it and craning your neck and begging can I come upstairs, please? Whenever the bell rings I hold my breath — just for a second — just to imagine that when I twist the lock and turn the knob and open the door you’ll be standing on the other side of it for no reason. You, the male lead — not a deliveryman, not a roommate of mine who’s misplaced her key.
And just when I think we’re reading from two different scripts, our hands meet blindly, neatly. They clasp without hesitation, never questioning for a second that they’re where they belong — these knuckles and joints and nails. I like to inspect the way our fingers lace, searching for the formula or the equation that explains how seamlessly they fit together. And when you catch me studying this marriage of skin, I wish you would suspend reality and look at me like someone has whispered stage directions in your ear: chin up, hand on cheek, smile with your eyes.
But there’s no stagehand feeding me my lines, so I often pause when I’m speaking to you for dramatic effect, as though I’m afraid or nervous or unsure of these sentences I’m stringing together. As though I could forget what I want to say — if only forgetting my lines were that easy. I pretend it’s difficult to tell you how I feel even though the words come naturally as my own name. It’s not difficult at all; this is the easy part.
The difficult part is trying to keep this role I’ve carved for myself, this role I’ve studied and auditioned for and earned. There are accidents and understudies, women who await in the wings, just as capable as I am except younger and tauter and hungrier for this thing than you’ve allowed me to be. I don’t know their names but I know they exist, dormant reminders that I can’t play this part forever.
I’m well aware that we are not stars in some black and white film, that I will not sit on a train with my open palm pressed against glass waiting for yours to match it. I will not look back as I move further and further away from you, shrinking into the distance; and you will not run after me when I make my final exit. When this scene ends, no one will applaud.