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He knew a lot about her, and most of the time it was truly a blessing. No man in the world understood her as well as he did, and he cherished every word she uttered about herself since everything she had was his. Her reason to laugh, her will to live, it was all his and he basked in the knowledge of this fact every day. He decided this during a fleeting moment of reflection when forcibly dragging her flailing, intoxicated limbs to his bedroom where she would lay for the night.
At this moment, they were two strangers and life had thrust them against each other, but he didn’t seem to mind and he prayed she didn’t either. Her hair was soft like ancient Egyptian silk – which he had learned when he removed the sweaty tendrils from her face. Her arms and legs fanned out like an eagle on his mattress; there was no room for him to sleep. However as he began to retreat, his legs glued themselves to the floor, his eyes trained on her.
There was no gem, crystal, or diamond that could equal this alarmingly beautiful goddess under his covers. Her bare shoulders and prominent collarbones were concealed. Mouth ajar, she released earth-shaking snores from her tiny body. The tiny body that held nothing but love for her favorite writers and poets – he could list them, he really could – and flowers she had researched on multiple occasions after reading Hamlet. Roses swore allegiance, while dandelions displayed affection for one’s kin. Somewhere along the weeks he had gotten familiar with her; he concluded that she was the prettiest flower there could ever be.
Unable to keep his gaze off of her, he silently reached over and maneuvered her body toward the edge of the bed and lowered his own between the sheets. She wouldn’t have minded anyways. A drunken confession had been made that night: this girl was lonely, like a cub removed from her mother. Here she was in his bed, in this massive, foreign world. She had easily accused him of being the best company she had in years. Years!
When her hand fisted his clothed chest, grasping the material of his T-shirt, he knew what his heart was screaming. As her drool trickled out of the corner of her mouth and onto his tattered shirt, he deduced that everything she had and was had willingly become his. He later realized, too, that all the atoms and cells and airway passages he contained in his weak body were controlled by her.
She was in his T-shirt this morning, approximately one year after the revelation. Needless to say, he was smitten like a child with its first pet. These days, these excruciating scorching days of August, were when she desired nothing but his company and a glass of lemonade.
She hugged her knees protectively to her chest, causing the bottoms of her plaid pajamas to rise and give the world a glance at her ankles. With the softest sigh, her head fell to her kneecaps with an audible thud.
From where he was perched with a novel in his hand – the romance story she recommended to him – he peered at the girl curiously.
“Coffee?” he offered quietly.
He was met with a shake of her head, wild curls escaping the wrath of the tight ponytail she forced her hair into every morning.
This was unusual. The girl was exceptionally talkative in the mornings, especially when staying over at his apartment. Normally, she would have rattled off about a peculiar dream she’d had the night before or her schedule for her day. It was strange to say the least … she had been quiet for more than ten minutes! That was more than even he could contain, so he attempted to coerce her further.
“You feelin’ all right?”
She picked up her head and rubbed at her eyes vigorously. “No. I am not okay.”
He placed his book down and ran a hand through his unkempt hair. “Is it your head again? I’m tellin’ you, you should go to the eye doctor and get your eyes checked again. You know when your temples–”
“When your temples hurt, it means your eyes are getting weaker and you need stronger contact lenses,” she practically snapped, dropping her arms onto the leather. “You’ve told me that too many times, Doctor.”
A frown etched on his features, eyebrows knitting together. His bottom lip was taken between his teeth as he observed her defensive position on the sofa across from him: mouth in a pout, eyes squinted with irritation, and legs crossed.
“What’s going on then?”
There was silence from her as he tilted her head back and fluttered her eyes shut, the persistent look of annoyance still on her face. It took her a brief moment to collect her thoughts, obvious to him who watched her intently, heart giving his whole body a lurch when the corners of her mouth twitched. She laid a hand over her stomach and let her legs shuffle back to the floor. Her miniature body was engulfed by the grand cushions he had insisted on purchasing the day after he bought the apartment. Although she strongly disagreed with his urge to spend as much money as he could on the interior, he found out that she loved that sofa more than anything in the entire space.
“I want something,” she murmured softly as she knuckled at her eye again. “I want something warm.”
His ears perked and spasmed. “What do you want? I can get it for you.”
She shook her head and opened her eyes, focused on him.
“No, it’s not something you can buy. It’s something you feel.”
Perplexed by this strange phrase, he replied, “What is it then?”
The girl blinked before her eyes became glazed and cloudy. He knew that isolated look she held in her orbs, usually before saying something so queer, he’d need to take a couple minutes to process it. To prepare himself, he cleared his throat and uncrossed his legs, letting them slide across the wood floor.
“I want a love,” she said, but was hasty to correct herself. “But not just any old love.”
He could provide her with a love, if that’s what she wanted. His muscles unclenched, back touching a cushion on his sofa, relaxing his burdened mind. “What type of love?”
She didn’t hesitate. “I want a Zelda and Scott love.”
“Their marriage was irrevocably the saddest thing to ever exist,” he interrupted, a laugh traveling up his throat.
Unfazed, she continued her list, “A love like Ophelia and Hamlet.”
“That wasn’t a very happy ending,” he admitted again.
The glassy, hollow look was still gleaming like an emerald in her eyes, still glancing straight through him. In a breathy voice, she said, “I’ll even take a love like Macbeth and his Lady.”
“He hardly felt for her. What’s the matter with you? What kind of examples are those? Are you going to say Romeo and Juliet next?”
“No!” she cried, suddenly aghast. “I support love, not foolishness!”
“Then what the devil are you talking about?”
“Don’t you see? I want a love that hurts me!” she exclaimed, wide eyes finally focusing on him. “I want my heart brutally broken. I want to cry over a man and have him cry back!”
“Why would you torture yourself with such frightening fantasies?” he huffed, reaching for his novel, clearly finished with this conversation. The verdict: his friend had gone insane.
“You don’t understand,” her voice got eerily quiet and he had to snap his neck back up to check if she had begun crying. “You will never understand. You don’t want that love.”
“Nobody in their sane mind would.”
Instead of throwing in the towel, she swiped at her eyes. Her meek voice continued to speak against him, standing boldly in her defense as she sought to explain herself.
“Scott Fitzgerald loved Zelda with every ounce of his being. His life revolved around that woman. They lived in the moment and relied on each other for warmth. Hamlet loved Ophelia with everything he had in him and was blinded by his motifs of revenge. Yes, she deserved better, but he was hers. He cried for her! His heart wept for her! Lady Macbeth encouraged Macbeth to commit the murder of Duncan and willingly became his partner in crime for the remainder of her life–”
“More than half the people you named died, darling,” he sighed, shaking his head. “I don’t understand what you want.”
“I want to love and be loved like them. And then I want my heart broken so I can start all over. I want … I want the full experience of heart failure.”
“It’s not very romantic,” he argued.
A smile spread across her lips as she scrunched her nose cutely at him, and he was reminded once more that she was adorned in his shirt, too big for her petite body, loosely touching the skin he yearned to. “I know. That’s why I want it.”
He stood up and sat beside her, arm immediately wrapping around her shoulder as if it belonged there. His arm was hers and her shoulder his. She instinctively dropped her head on his chest, inhaling his manly scent, curling herself into his body. His free hand rubbed between the dimples that permanently resided on her lower back. He felt her cheek on his throbbing, bare collarbone and hot breath on his scruffy jaw. He should have shaved due to the copious amounts of cuddling the friends did. He was quick to press a kiss to her forehead, before she skimmed away from him.
“You’ll find a love like that. That weird, sadistic love.”
“It’s not sadistic,” she mumbled sadly into his chest. “It’s real life. I want to live through it. I want to survive to tell about it.”
He slouched against her and nodded as if he understood this peculiar girl. A final peck was delivered to her skin, lingering a little longer than usual. If she wanted that type of love, she would get it, he was practically her servant. Willingly, of course, but if there was ever a chance, he would beg her to make him her personal prisoner. He could live isolated from the world, and breathe as long as he was in her company, bathing in her attention and affection, which he hoped he’d be granted soon.
His girl was mad with romance and thanks to his hapless life, he loved her with every fiber of his being.
Crooks, South Dakota
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