Friday, August 19, 2011

The Edge of Desire

Last night I sat on the terrace with you at a cheap plastic table overlooking the moon dimpled waters of the plage St. Jean. The tides slushed in and out along the sand as the sea exhaled its hot breath on our faces and we ate the pasta you'd made with the remainders of a near barren fridge.

There is something mysterious about you, the way you coif your surf soaked hair into a low, tiny bun at the nape of your neck and puff your Marlboros into ephemeral gray clouds while you pace the shore, the deck, the kitchen. Sometimes you smell of musk and salt, of sweat and laughter.

* * *

I'd been reading on the couch, curled under a blanket of humidity when you opened the front door and I'd heard your shuffling feet. I shot upward. You asked me if I was hungry, if I'd already eaten. I had no appetite, but you said you were making pasta, so I agreed to eat a little bit. My spine stiffened and I refused to glance at you while I heard you gently open the cabinets and wash the colander and boil the water. You didn't want to wake the children with noise, but to me, the silence was a welcome wall. My throat tightened.

* * *

My relationship to you exists in the confines of a kitchen, in the spaces between an oven, a fridge, and a sink. Two weeks ago you stood next to me making espresso shots while I did the dishes. You referenced an obscure writing of Picasso's, a passage about how washing the dishes is a way of showing appreciation for their functionality, of the things dishes do for us. A small remerciement. I was charmed.

You'd charmed me before that, charmed me one afternoon while I did the dishes and you sat at a table, glued to your Macbook. You asked if I had a boyfriend. No. I'm too timid, I explained, rationalizing the way I attempt to rationalize everything. I'm too focused, once I have a goal, it's too tough to pull me away, it's a weakness. My eternal excuse, my security.

* * *

Twenty minutes later, you handed me a fuming mountain of pasta and apologized for the impending horrible taste, said it reminded you of your days as a student. I went to get the salt. " Are you going to eat inside?," you inquired with a surprised grimace when I set the plate down on the inside table. I could've said yes. I could've kept my distance. I could've left you alone on the terrace. I could've told you I was in no way hungry, not one bit, and refused the pasta in the first place. But I didn't.

The way we talked at that plastic table, in the middle of the night, almost furtively, while the children slept, made it feel forbidden. You just ended it with your flame haired girlfriend of I-don't-know-how-many-years, and I sopped up guilt like I were a culprit, like I were responsible, though I know I'm not. Was I crossing the line, by agreeing to eat with you? I joked about you even having enough time to eat considering you've been busting your ass nonstop for the past three days on your Macbook, staring vacantly into the screen with Chopin humming in the speakers. I joked because I didn't know what else to do with myself, like I usually do.

Maybe I joked because what you don't know is that yesterday morning I had to enter the room to get a towel, and that I didn't see you sleeping on the white bed until I about faced to exit. What you don't know is that for a solitary moment, I paused and watched you sleep, a king of grace in the dim light of the bedroom, and wondered what it would be like to curl up alongside you.

* * *

Our twenty minute pasta interlude ended more quickly than it had begun. You were a gentleman and took my plate and I thanked you for it, despite my consumption of a mere three or four forkfuls. I lost count talking to you.

You went back to your work, slipping out the front door as you whispered a gentle goodnight and I contorted myself back onto the couch, plunging back into my reading.

As if nothing had ever happened.

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