by Annabeth Leong
"I want to lock you in the closet at my job and just keep you in there," he said as I fucked him.
It was our last time together, and we both knew it. The story doesn't need much detail to be clear. He wanted me in the way that makes a person willing to make grand romantic gestures. I wanted to return that feeling, but didn't. We fucked well, so we were doing that before I left for the airport.
This is the last time I'm going to ride this fantastic cock, I remember thinking. I tried to memorize every good place it touched inside me.
He kept talking, fantasizing out loud about what it would be like to prevent me from leaving him. I get off on that sort of fantasy sometimes, so everything began to feel amazing. We were in perfect accord, connected by a mutual vision of me, helpless, forced to live a life I couldn't make myself want on my own. I came hard.
Then I got up and the disconnection set in. For me, it was just a hot fantasy. It was a thing I could walk away from. For him, it was a sincerely felt wish.
I decided to make her my friend, and then I single-mindedly pursued her. "It's like romance," I told my male partner confidently, unperturbed, because at that time in my life I was in denial about the fact that the way I felt about certain women wasn't like romance—it was romance.
One night, I convinced her to come out with me. We walked to the playground in the dark and kicked off our shoes and climbed onto a structure made of metal rope. We clung to it beside each other, our bodies vibrating as the metal hummed in response to the breeze. I was so hungry to know every little thing she was willing to tell me about herself. I could feel myself taking her sentences in deep, pouring love all over them, and reflecting them back to her. We stayed out for hours before I finally drove her home.
Before she left town a few weeks later, she called me over to her apartment and gave me her shoe collection and a bottle of good vanilla. I bought books I thought she would like and mailed them to her new address. I sobbed inconsolably. I still wear her shoes, though they are just slightly too small for me and hurt my feet.
There is a sort of love that defeats the constant concern I feel for how others see me. The only thing that matters when I love that way is what that one loved person thinks. And so sometimes I feel safe from almost everything, exhilarated by the freedom.
He talked slowly and hated to be interrupted. I learned to accept five-minute pauses in conversation as he pondered. I didn't know how much of myself I normally hold back until I found myself loving him without reserve. He didn't like smoking, and one day I thought about how if I really loved him, the feeling ought to make me better. I took the cigarette out of my mouth and haven't smoked one since.
One day we were at dinner in the college cafeteria, and we were playing a silly game we had just dredged from the depths of our childhood memories. We made a pact not to break each other's gaze. The goal was to try to trick the other person into making a noise. With an absolutely straight face, he picked up his bowl of hot soup and slowly poured it straight into his lap, and I laughed harder than I ever had in my life.
When he told me eventually that we didn't share Christ in common and couldn't be friends anymore, I stared at him blankly, with a child's innocent lack of comprehension. The world could not be that wrong. It could not.
I didn't like her; I liked her best friend. Her best friend was a singer with a big voice who never fixed the pronouns when she sang covers of old blues songs. But this singer kept throwing me at her friend, telling me to ride with that other girl to the party, enticing me to go to that other girl's house, promising that she'd show up there eventually, leaving me waiting for hours.
But I would get bored sometimes and kiss the girl I didn't like. She asked me to pour candle wax on her back, then blow it cool. Ever accommodating, I said I would, and then I got curious and asked her to do it to me, too. One night, we did that together with a guy we knew from a local bar, stripped to our bras, burning each other and kissing and giggling. Later, we walked out into the night. I was so warm inside and outside that I barely felt the need to get dressed to go out to the street. The three of us held hands.
He showed up another day at the bar with roses for each of us, thinking we were great friends, or that we were together, and I ducked my head because I was there waiting for the singer, as usual.
I wooed him by writing a poem, but then he went away for the weekend and I fucked someone else, probably because at the time I didn't really know how to say no. So we broke up, and he wrote me a poem, and when I read it I felt shamed and humbled, because I had to admit that his poem was better.
When I miss her with the sharpest sting, I am thinking of the moment when we were saying goodbye after the first time we had lunch together. We were standing on the street next to her car, and all I wanted right then was to spend as much time with her as possible. I was afraid of humiliating myself, but I needed her to know, so I asked if we could do this again. Like, soon. Like, tomorrow.
That was stupid, I thought. I was supposed to play it cool—pull out my smartphone and schedule something three weeks in advance. But the truth was, I would have canceled just about anything for another chance to be near her. And I wasn't busy tomorrow.
Her face wide open, she nodded at me with the sort of enthusiasm that adults rarely allow. I knew from her expression that she was with me all the way. We felt exactly the same about the lunch we'd had together.
I'll always hold that moment close, that experience of wanting in profound accord with someone else. Of being told yes in a way that wasn't just about lunch but also meant yes you are perfection and yes I think I maybe love you.
"Yeah," she said. "Let's do it."