He offered you semblances of intimacy—your head on his shoulder, his arm around your waist, a kiss on the forehead—and you took it all in.
Slowly, he let you in, guided you, through notes scribbled in haste, and memories long forgotten. But you’d learned by now to not trust any of it. You’d learned by now that it all meant nothing.
He broke the unspoken rules of your arrangement.
He sought you out in the wee hours of the morning, and you were beside yourself with the rush of feeling needed, and the thrill that came with keeping his secrets. But when you were together, you never spoke about them—when you were together, there was only you, and him, and your togetherness. The world that was before you never existed. All that mattered was your nails digging into his skin, your fingers tangled in his hair, your lips as they sucked his dry of the alcohol and nicotine that flavored them. You were content to live in this world of anonymity, of knowing nothing about each other while memorizing each carved muscle, each protruding bone. You were content with sharing nothing but the silence beneath his sheets.
But he broke this the moment he uttered her name, and reality sucked you back in.
He shared little bits and pieces of himself with you, and you shuddered to think that he could be letting you in. He was magnificent, and eloquent. With the grace of a wounded swan, he pulled you into his world, one scribbled note and forgotten dream at a time. It scared you because you’d told yourselves from the beginning that this could be nothing more—that you two could never be any more than strangers—and because you knew that the moment he let you in, you would falter.
And you knew that she would still have more than the best of him—you could see it in the spark that lit up his face whenever he mindlessly spoke of her—and that you would always be nothing more.
Nothing more than strangers.
Ages pass and you can still feel him, smell his scent in your hair, and on your skin. Ages pass and you still remember him with every whiff of nicotine, with every seatbelt left unfastened, with every devilish smile. Ages pass and you’re still bothered, not because of the forbidden comfort you’d offered and found in each other, but because of the reality he’d so plainly slapped hard against your face.
You pitied her, but not enough to stop.
With tired eyes from sleepless nights and midnight trysts behind closed doors, you smile. Because you know that the next time he drags you out of bed in the wee hours of the morning, he’ll take your hand, and pull you in, your head on his shoulder, and his arm around your waist. You’d fight and claw and growl and scratch, and he would let you, until you exhausted yourself, and you would lay together like heaps of flesh, barely breathing, with the world having faded away, and maybe then, unaware of even the other soul gasping for life beside you.
Strangers again, like he’d never said her name.
Business as usual.
Originally posted on Tumblr on Sept 13th 2011