Another person’s apartment can be terrifying. The way the vase is cut, China shaped, and bedroom laid at such strange angles. There’s a windfall of history on the vase by the windowsill, vortexes of the past lying in throw pillows and dead eyed picture frames glaring from the dresser. I wouldn’t dare look in her closet, where entire eras are forever expanding in his old t-shirts and a shoe-box piled in yesterday’s love letters.
So many pieces of a person on display can make you feel like at any given moment their reality might swallow you whole.
“The next time you snore so loud I’m kicking you out.” She said.
We were having breakfast in her kitchen warm as the silence of the morning. Her cream blinds held back the brightness of the sun, but the snow building on her window sills shimmered into the room and came stabbing through the dim. Elis liked the night as much as I did. She was fine with simply existing and letting me and life alone, so long as she could be herself and go along her own playful, sinister way.
“What if there’s a storm?” I asked. And she answered with a shrug.
Elis was lonely as a firework – sharp and quick, over way too soon, and beautiful. Shuffling in her chair, dark and dank as her favorite memes, rolling her eyes at my long stares and stealing glances from her veggie omelet. Obvious enough to notice but never admit to, her affection was bloody and juvenile. It ran and pinched and hurt enough to remind you that you were real, and every day with her made me painfully gracious for life, like skinned knees.
Her iHome speaker popped to life and a hum of music came between us.
“I love this song, listen…” She said.
Drums and a distant pluck of a guitar strung softly, harmonous. The sound of rain and footsteps pacing against the damp clay of Earth. It resonated with images of forest, of nature, of Africa and distant lands I would never know but held a notion of. A man spoke with the rhythm: calm, tenor, and confident. What he was saying I didn’t know but he said it avidly, a moving moan of ache, of pain, of a violent inner victory. While saying nothing he said everything, spoke the wordless hymns I often heard chorus silently within me.
For a moment I wondered what he was saying but decided against it. A translation would have been a mutilation. Some things are not meant to be known, but only vaguely understood.
“Pass the ketchup” Elis said, and I stared at her like a sphinx. I couldn’t understand or come to terms with her laissez faire. She was refreshingly blunt, disarming and forward- like a poem with too many curses in it. When she saturnines my Sunday morning with that frank, playful innocence, I’m reminded of the subtle intimacy in a pair of bare knees.
“We could be like this, you know.” I said. “Nice to each other.”
She laughed, shy. Kittenish.
“No,” She said. “I don’t want that.”
She chewed her egg and glanced around the room, looking for the words. The drums and man trapped in the speaker sang on with a blue and bridled passion.
“Because it isn’t fun.” She said finally.
I wondered what it was that drew me to her, why that thoughtless honesty was so refreshing. How her dark smile made me giddy and thawed so puckishly at adulthood.
Adulthood, that prison of constraint by way of conventional. I thought of bygone lovers, artfully carting their personalities and intellect on a cell phone. Yawning over life in half-wit consciousness. Quiet, empty head nods and cataract conversations, calculated candids. They were wordy, they were wise, they were sensitive to words and sunsets.
The kind of women I considered smart, in my stupidity. They were many things, but they weren’t Elis.
A wild, sudden impulse punctured me and I flicked a finger. A dozen ketchup packets flew across the floor, scattered in six different directions, and a thousand moons couldn’t compare to Elis’ beautifully annoyed smile.
“Fucking asshole,” She, lied. And was right.
This was more fun.