When I met him I was in that place. That place where you realize what you hold in your hands is already lifeless, you let it die, it’s too late. But still you hold it, cradle it gently as though you might break it. Break what is already broken.
“Put it down, Anna.”
I could only shake my head and attempt to hide tears that shamed me.
“You have to.”
“But I can’t.”
“There’s nothing there.”
“It feels like there is. I still feel it.”
“It is a phantom pain, my dear.”
Like when you lose a limb. A part of you that’s always been a part of you, and even though you know it’s gone you will always feel it aching or itching.
Then there is the question of what to do with your hands. Your hands have held this thing for so long, they don’t remember how to do anything else. Now they’re empty and awkward, and oddly useless.
“You fill them with something else,” he said.
“What? What do I fill them with? What they held only comes once in a lifetime. I’ll never hold it again.”
“It doesn’t have to be the same thing. It shouldn’t be the same thing.”
“Will you give me something to fill them with?”
He leaned in and his eyes were black. His tongue traced my lips before he engulfed me fully and I surrendered. I was ready to surrender.
I still saw Aaron’s face. The dejection, the heartbreak… it would haunt me forever. I couldn’t be with him and couldn’t remember how to be without him. All I knew was I couldn’t be the reason he ended his marriage. I wouldn’t be a homewrecker. I closed my eyes at night, and a grief not my own filled my ears. I would get up and drink. The honeyed whiskey burned all the way down, but it dulled the wailing.
I pulled back. “Will you stay?”
“Of course.” He wrapped me in his arms and I wished he would never leave. He would. By morning he would be gone, leaving me with the memories of caresses that only lit deeper fires, kisses that fanned them, and the brand of his mouth on my skin.
Leaving me alone with this dead thing in my hands.