Her showers usually end at 7:00am. She always jumps out with wavy, dripping hair. It curls into the small of her back. A baby-blue bath towel wraps around her body. Her light steps pad across the carpet to her desk. She runs a silky finger over the touchpad, and her laptop hums awake. Her latest musical obsession buzzes the steamy air, and breathes her to life.
I lean against the maple tree under her bedroom window. Standing on the tips of my toes, I can see past the sheer white curtains. My fingernails dig deep into my palms. I suck in my cheekbones. It makes me look regal. It makes me feel like I deserve to be here. The muscles in my calves are stiff and sore. It’s a small price to pay.
I watch her flowing body dance as she finishes her morning routine. I breathe slowly, in and out, hoping to fade into the morning mist, mired in the grey. I dream that I am floating into space. She reminds me of a star. Her skin blistering bright, glowing without relent. She’s a breathing enigma, too naturally turbulent to not burn out. She is my fixed point.
It’s 2 O’clock in the afternoon. She is sitting alone on the restaurant patio. She frequents the 220 café. The black patio chair contrasts starkly with her porcelain features. Her fingers move fluidly, clicking the keys on her laptop. Her headphones are in, the Descendent’s fervent sound rushing to her ears. That’s the artist I’ve seen her drag up on her screen the past few mornings.
I sit at the Café’ Diem across the street, trapped in her gravity. I orbit silently, sipping Jet Fuel. It scalds my tongue. I run my teeth across its tip. I relish the singeing damage. I cast broken glances between passing cars. She licks her cherry-red lips. Her clicking keys never falter. I know she spills desire into her words. She has always painted her articles with the up-most care.
Today she looks up from her writing. She glances across the street. My heartbeat is static. My skin ignites. There are days I swear I can feel her gaze, like the ocean, engulfing the obscene. I cannot escape. I kick the metal table. I scratch at my blistering skin. I shake my head with longing. Her keys are clicking again.
The breeze smells like rain. It brushes the curls across her dimpled cheeks. The muggy air makes her restless. I count the times she crosses and uncrosses her legs: 3. I count the times that she slides her chair to and from the table: 4.
At 4 O’clock she sips the last of her green tea. She folds her laptop and slips it into her black knapsack. Her chair grates the concrete one last time. I count to 10 before I stand. I have no choice but to follow.
She walks north down the sidewalk. Her hips sway. Her right hand holds the black bag on her shoulder. Her flowered skirt, battling the breeze, clings daringly to her thighs.
She walks the block. She turns right at the old green streetlight. She takes the 235 steps back to her townhome. I reach my hands out behind her. I lessen the vapid gap between us. It’s too late. The door has clicked shut. I stand at the bottom of her stone stairs.
Her gravity pulls. I am motionless, trapped in surreal suspension. My bruised palms smooth my pants. My fingers calm the chaos out of my unkempt hair. A chilling drizzle lands on my cheeks. It doesn’t quiet the savage twisting in my stomach. I want her.
One. Two. Three. My feet take the stone stairs before me. I have no choice. My shaking knuckles meet her beige door. They have betrayed me.
The heavens crash down upon me. A cavernous ache fills my chest. Seconds tick by, the door glides open. Her glossed features peak around its edge.
“Hello” my cotton tongue catches on my cracked lips.
“May we talk?” I flash a fervent smile.
“Why don’t you come in?” Those sweet cherry-red words roll off of her luring tongue.
She doesn’t know what she is asking. She can’t know. My feet feel like bricks. I manage to shuffle past the beige doorframe. It smells like jasmine.
The door clicks shut.