• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 09
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LOUIS and DAHLIA stand on the stage, far apart, posed and motionless. He looks staid and aloof, which he uses to hide his insecurities. She projects anger, fierceness, and a little bit of vulnerability—all her emotions thrum tight under her skin.

They are lovers, they’ve decided. They could put other labels on what they are to each other, but what they are would splinter if named, and they both expect this relationship to crumble soon anyway.

There’s no clear setting. They could be anywhere. A restaurant, his apartment, an antique shop. The setting doesn’t matter. What matters is that they’re in a moment where they’re thinking about the same thing, but not communicating about it, as usual.

LOUIS moves. He walks over to the still-frozen DAHLIA, circles her, lightly touches her hair. Looks towards the audience. As he speaks, he continues to interact with DAHLIA, who stares forward, unseeing.

Dahlia’s too old for those bangs. I’d never say that to her, but she is. They make her look young, younger than she is. She’ll be 27 next month, can you believe it? She still looks like some teenage gamine. I didn’t know her as a teenager—maybe it’d have been better if I had—but I imagine even then she had those bangs and that eyeliner and looked at every man like he was her father.

Some men like it, I think. Her prickliness. The way she’ll bite you as soon as kiss you. I don’t know if it came before or after. If it’s part of her, or part of—Him.

It makes me sick. What He took from her, from us. Not that it’s about me—



LOUIS freezes, and DAHLIA moves, but not much. She looks into his frozen face for a long moment, then, as if in an explosion of frustration, strides away from him and towards the edge of the stage, to the audience.

Do you think I’m your father? Louis said to me once. No, I said, I really don’t, and don’t talk about Him while we’re doing it.

He treats me like I’m fragile. I’m not used to that, and I hate it. Have you been going to counselling? Have you been taking your meds? He won’t even believe I like him, oh God no, it has to be because He warped me, because I’m trying to relive my trauma.

I do really like Louis. I’m as sure of that as I am of anything. And yeah, I don’t get him. You should hear him going on about Super 120 wool and bound buttonholes and the Art of Tailoring. But it’s sweet, really. I don’t know many other men who get so happy about something so innocent.

There’s this fleshy dimple in his chin. I’ve always wanted to lick it. To taste this unimportant, harmless part of him. And if I did, he’d flinch away, like my desire, my need is toxic, more toxic for being rare. Like He took that from me too.