“Remember, I’m still under your spell,” he breathes over me in the dark, lips pressed against my hip bones.
I sigh heavily as my fingers trace his temple, my body is hooked up to an electricity current. It feels dangerous here, in the dark warehouse, like at any moment someone could walk in on us. The primal fear quickens in my chest as he starts kissing my abdomen again, my spine unfolds against his weight, the rain beats above us on the warehouse roof muffling human cries in an amplified torrential drumbeat.
I mumble soft encouragement and move his hands to my favorite trigger points, the coordinates of my flesh that send shockwaves to my toes. He nibbles my collarbone and I melt.
We should not be doing this, I think as I tilt my head upside-down against the mat to scan the row of windows. If the director sees us, it’s over…not that I care for myself, but for the future of the boy making love to me in an empty warehouse of the kids’ camp we’re working at for the summer.
“There are ghosts in here you know,” I say flatly.
He lays his head against my chest and sighs.
“I can hear your heart.”
“Is it racing?” I ask groggily. I’m enjoying this but am running on my third night without sleep. Insomnia will always be my first lover.
“No,” he pauses, “It’s very…slow.”
“Yeah, I worry about it sometimes.”
I should not be doing this, I think.
I drop my gaze to those eyes, brimming over with what I convince myself is good intention. Lunar light tells me his expression has become boyish in anticipation of some kind of reaction, just like KB used to. Searching for praise or affirmation or other positive reassurance that what they’re doing is satisfying my feminine requirements.
I feel a twinge of dread beneath my sternum, the self conviction that visits only when I can no longer pretend my heart to be a carefree lovely thing. It used to keep pace with my lovers. It used to leap in ecstasy when hit with these encounters. Now it is indifferent to offerings of affection. Now it cannot be roused alongside my female flesh.
Now it is slow.
Spellbound will put his ear to my chest many times tonight, and he will find no change in its pace. My breathing will increase and become ragged, which is under my control. But my heart cannot lie.
I hesitate when he asks me what I want him to do. I cannot ask for it. Perhaps my epiphany has ended us for good. The night is surely over for me. I never like to disappoint.
I think about yesterday, laying in each others’ arms in a dodgy hotel room as the sun rose. Our day trip turned into an overnight when a coworker went missing while drinking with a bunch of local douchebags. I refused to leave the city without her, so we found the cheapest room and staged ourselves for the night.
I told myself I wouldn’t be here, doing this, giving the blueprints of my body to a guy I’ll probably never see after the summer, but his advances wore down my defenses and after seeing his face fall when I told him to really consider whether I was a healthy presence for him I knew it would only be a matter of time before I let him consume me.
It was a night spent under stars and fireworks. We wandered the haunted streets of the place I attended college in before dropping out in 2011. I expected to find sweet memories falling from the giant oak trees of campus and contentment when visiting the old coffee shops I loved. But there are only ghosts. Imprints of people I went to school with, flashbacks of the days darkened by the first depressive episode that would nearly hospitalize me.
The city is ruined. My beloved city is ruined.
Until then Spellbound had pursued me by my requested route of letters. We exchanged them every day despite working at the same camp. I was always enthralled to write him the thoughts I could never wrestle into speech. It was brutally romantic. I was attracted to his intellect and wit, his cerebral silence and independence.
But there was always pushback in my brain. One moment I would be flirtatious and the next withdrawn. One moment passionate, the next melancholy.
He said he didn’t drink coffee. He didn’t want to become dependent on it.
My veins are flooded with psychotrophic drugs and caffeine.
He says he doesn’t believe in god.
My soul is guided by the moon.
He wants to be a diplomatic official.
I want to be a cat.
He says he once dated an alcoholic and hated taking care of her. He says opposites do not attract.
I drink whiskey from the bottle and say let’s run away to Paris. (He indulges my silliness for kicks. We’re going to stop in Kansas City for his passport first, he jokes, so I can meet his mother.)
And now I look on him lovingly in the dark. He devotes himself to pleasing me for hours it seems, exploring the contours of my body ever so slowly, mapping out its landmarks and valleys as I always wished KB would have. He doesn’t let me apologize for not reciprocating, he says he enjoys this enough. He is a terrible kisser. He has incredibly corded arms and makes me laugh during sex.
He says I am beautiful. He says I looked beautiful even when I was sick a few weeks ago. He says I have it all. Perhaps these words are recorded, but they set my cheekbones aflame.
But the ghosts are in my chest now.
I know we are on borrowed time here, making love in the warehouse as fog settles in and surrounds us on all sides. I kiss his forehead tenderly.
“Let’s get you to bed,” I mumble.
This is an affair defined in the words of Bukowski. And those always end something like this.