Fragments of language and story extracted from the body
–by Temim Fruchter
Almost A Love Note
I wanted it to be you. The first kiss. Mine. But I was afraid. I mean I had played the whole thing out in my mind over and over again from forever. You were a glint of satin. You made my thighs breathe. I willed you to look, like bending at the waist away from the gutter at the bowling alley. I pretended invisible wire, and like hope might hit hard and knock down like I wanted it to. I closed my eyes and imagined I was a proclamation. I wanted it to be you. But I wanted it where wanting was just a shimmer, the idea of wanting.
This is nothing new.
I loved looking for you, but I was afraid of finding you. As things would have it, though, you were never one to be found anyway. You were always somewhere else. Even when you were there, you were never quite. I always wished I was a little bit more mysterious like that – always with the wine on my shirt and the heart on the outside of my skin – and so often, I envied you. You were always the prettiest. I could look and look away in the same sentence. I could miss you. You were always the most blazing kind of ghost.
I mean this is nothing new.
You were afraid, too, I think, but you wore your cowardice like a plume, making it look like something almost beautiful. I was jealous, not because you had any more courage than the rest of us, but because in the space where courage would have been there was the most human tonic, a charm warm as skin. I wanted your kind of afraid. I wanted the taste of certain behind my pursed and nervous lips.
In the story, I invented you. In the story, I never sent my letters. In the story, you never read them. In the story, I was the kind of person who could tear up missives unopened. In the story, I wasn’t always waiting for what came next.
We bought love notes at a stoop sale, a whole bundle for five dollars. We took turns reading them out loud on the bus to the art museum. They were not ours, and so they were easier to read. It was magic not knowing how things ended, or whether they ever did.
This is older than we know.
Physics were always sexier as a concept. I imagine the proximity of lips and the exchange of light between pupils. I imagine the speed of approach and what it takes to cloak expression. I have always meant to learn how to read a map. I still think they’re beautiful even though I don’t use them correctly. I can’t quite get to you in time, so I imagine wings. I imagine bones. I imagine bravery and prisms and right angles. I write the letters to myself, tell the stories to myself and lean hard and sharp away from the gutter, hoping I get lucky and they find you anyway.