The birds openly welcomed dawn with their bright chirps as I brushed the tips of my fingers across the lower part of her jaw, tracing the outline of a faint scar.
“What happened here?” I ran my fingers through her short soft hair as she smiled coyly and closed her eyes.
“A dog bit me–hey! It was my friend.” She nudged me playfully in response to my involuntary smirk.
“Was it Mocha?” The small ball of fur lifted her head in suspicion to hearing her name from the bottom half of the bed. The dog and I made eye contact for a moment before I glanced away in defeat.
“Oh no, it was my friend’s dog–a Jack-Russell terrier.” She crawled towards the edge of the bed and playfully kissed Mocha, sticking her face in the dog’s belly, laughing as the dog affectionately licked her face right where the scar was.
The faint glow of a neon Bud Light sign flickered above our heads at the bar, bustling with bouts of loud laughter and poorly performed karaoke. I glanced around from time to time, examining the strangers that surrounded our small little table–an island of our own in the sea of intoxicated lesbians and the bitter disdainful heartbroken.
She told me about her melancholic experience at a local strip club. The broken eyes and soggy wet carpet inside that smelled like mold and broken daughters.
“How can we dehumanize them?”
I sipped my pint of beer and leaned forward. “Maybe it’s them that dehumanize us. Maybe they dance and feel sorry for the crowd–desperate for some sort of interpersonal human connection that can only be obtained through monetary means.”
There was a silence between us as some Asian guy began scream-singing Whitney Houston.
“That’s pretty deep dude” her eyes narrowed suspiciously, as if she were trying to see through the veil.
I shrugged, “maybe what I’m saying makes no sense, and I’m just really drunk with a very attractive girl.”
She pursed her lips for a moment in thought. “Tell me something about yourself–something real.”
The karaoke microphone squealed in protest to being handed to the next singing contestant.
“You know how nobody ever wants to say they’re a writer? It’s like there’s some standard to live up to, and anyone that falls below it is a poser or a wannabe.”
“But you told me you were a writer at our first dinner.”
“Yeah, because I am a writer. I hide behind words and figurative language because I don’t know how to cope with the fucked up things that happened to me when I was a kid–and sometimes, I ask myself if who I am when I write, is who I am when I wake up in the morning.”
There was a pause while she absorbed my words as our bloodstreams absorbed our alcohol.
I blinked, stunned that those words had finally crawled from out of my throat. They lingered in the stale air of sweat and spilled two-for-one vodka shots. I asked myself if there were a special net or jar I could use to scoop them away from the center stage–if I could capture them before it was too late.
When we walked back to her car in the humid night, I wrapped my arm around hers and smiled adoringly as I felt her muscles flex. I pressed my lips to her neck before she started the ignition and leaned back with the back of my hand covering my intoxicated eyes.
“I’m really glad we met,” I admitted with my head tilted upwards.
“I think I am too.”
When we collide into somebody who has the ability to pause our constantly churning minds–we find ourselves drawn to them like moths to the promising flame. This person could reek of devastation or conversely, the most profound inconceivable idea of hope. Moths instinctually flutter towards the light, unaware of whether it is the harmless fluorescence–or the igniting of their dusty paper-thin wings.
For months, I closed my eyes at night upon a bed built of apathy. Each individual I encountered was as insignificant as a passing cloud–floating above harmlessly, leaving no real mark of lingering thought upon my daily routine.
I was unscathed. I was safe. I was a nestled ball of security that curled up each night and fell asleep with the dim glow of Netflix cascaded upon her cheeks.
What a terrible irony it is that security coincides with loneliness. Excitement resides within the daring, the willingness to shove every stack of chips into the center of the poker table with a sly grin.
To choose the risk is to gamble blindfolded with a blade to the jugular vein–but to hide behind the wall is to accept that your throat has already been cut.