- Vol. 07
- Chapter 10
BEFORE WE SAY I LOVE YOU
If the clouds felt lower, it was only an illusion. Inside I felt I was leaping toward them, my hair grazing the underbelly of suspended rain. It was because I was with you. You were spread out on the grass, looking at me through dark sunglasses. On your lip, an unlit cigarette. You tried, hard, to emit the same nonchalance as the stars you pressed to your walls with gum—a sombre Marlon Brando, a pouting Elvis, a proud Jimi Hendrix, inhabiting their own images so definitively, each picture as conclusive as a death mask.
Your own image was striking. I wanted to photograph you, post you to social media, tag you, own you, but you didn't like 'the networks' as you called them. This rebellion made me love you more. You were something I had discovered, like a remote island. My private retreat.
"I'm going to be famous," I said.
“You, want to be famous?”
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. I just don’t see why you need the validation of strangers."
You said it as though you were unaware of the meticulous way you assembled your appearance, the boots you hunted down on eBay, the vintage finds you trawled charity shops for. The nipple ring you said you forgot you had, unless I happened to kiss you there, my stubble sanding your shaved chest.
"Why do you care what people think of you?" you asked me, a hint of accusation in your voice.
BEFORE WE SAY I LOVE YOU
"I don't. I've just always had a feeling, that I'll be famous. One day." I was teasing you, trying to get a rise. If you were to have asked me what I wanted to be famous for, it wouldn’t have been for my music. It would have been for loving you. You who looked handsome enough to be someone, who acted as though trying to be incognito while drawing attention with your absolute calm. I liked your aura of control, especially in the bedroom when you hooked me into a harness and locked my limbs into position with constraints. It was degrading in a way, but the ritual made it symbolic, what we were doing—you and me, chained to our sexuality, our personalities, each other.
I hadn't yet told you how I felt. Sometimes it seemed we were still strangers, although we had been sleeping together for weeks. The force of feeling I had for you seemed to dance around us in the park. It was on the breeze that ran through the long grass, the playful footsteps of the preteens cartwheeling along the tarmac path, it was pirouetting on the tip of my tongue. You sat up, lit the cigarette. I’d told you I liked kissing your smoke fresh mouth, licking poison from your tongue. I could feel a beat of anticipatory pleasure descend below my waist. My heart flipped.
"I wouldn't like it," you said decisively, blowing smoke upwards in a grey plume. "You're mine. I don’t want to share.”