by Emily Alfano | Fiction | Summer 2021
I think I fell in love with you when you wiped the dirty grin off my face after tripping up the flight of stairs leading to your apartment.
I think I fell after you watched Moonstruck with me and we talked about it for hours on end.
I think I fell when you saw me cry for the first time and wiped the tears off my cheek with your calloused thumb. I was so embarrassed, and you held me and told me everything was going to be okay.
I think I fell in love with you even when I hated you. I hated your crooked nose and bushy eyebrows and your sandpaper hands that pressed too hard against my cheek. But your nose had been beaten and bruised so that it looked like a mountain ridge from top to bottom. And your eyebrows frame your golden, almond shaped eyes which trapped my soul in them.
I knew I was falling when your mother held me in her arms and I saw your smile that showed all of your teeth shining back at me. Her arms an echo of yours.
You used to know me and my smiles and my big, ugly, cackling laugh. You said how you wished you could meet my mother, and I told you how much she would have loved you. You knew me inside and out.
I used to know me. Inside and out.
And I used to know you with your impulsive adventures and scarred hand holding mine in a secluded wood without fear or uncertainty.
You, with a devilish grin that could laugh out loud with a hand around my neck. Did you ever fall in love with me?
Did you sign your name with love on my back, my thighs, my cheek?
I wish I could remember a time when I couldn’t go a second without touching you. Now, all I feel are your hot hand prints and they are suffocating me.
I don’t think I know you anymore. I haven’t for a while. Your eyes are transparent, your tongue too solid against mine. You’ve stopped wiping the tears from my cheeks. I stare at my body that is not my body anymore and I swear there are marks I do not remember putting there.
Your mother’s hug is so alien from yours now. Who could come from such loving arms and hurt someone so badly?
No matter how hard I try, I will never get enough distance from you. You’ll never blur out of existence like I want and I will be left with your shadow lurking behind every attempt of mine to move on.
But I will move on. And eventually I won’t feel your hands on my neck, my back, my thighs. And my tears won’t sting my cheeks in your name. The woods will welcome me back and I’ll stop thinking anyone with a scar on their hand is you. And I’ll know that my mother would have warned me about you, just like yours should have.