He begged the filter for one last drag as he pursed his lips to inhale. I watched his chest rise and pictured his lungs begin to fill with smoke and satisfaction. Satisfaction, at least for the time being. In one, smooth exhale, the smoke escaped through his slitted lips. And I caught myself, drowning in the moment. I held my breath in an attempt to gather my thoughts. I could feel the emptiness in me growing and I wanted to reach out and touch his soft, porcelain skin. I wanted to feel the warmth of another. I wanted it to lessen my loneliness. Even if I only felt loneliness when I was with him.
But I didn’t reach out. I didn’t touch him. Only for fear of feeling more than just his warmth. I wanted so despretely to let him save me in that moment. To let him hold my head above the water. I wanted so badly, to let him into what was left of me. But only in my solitude, is it the safest.
His eyes quickly shifted from the escaping smoke to mine, as if he’d remembered he wasn’t alone. A deer in headlights, I was trapped in his gaze.
‘Can I kiss you?’
Jerked from my own desires, I was unsure he had spoken at all.
“Can I kiss you?”
The voice in my head screamed and I shifted in my seat to try to silence it.
And in this, I realized, that only in my waiting, did the weight get heavier. My insides ached.
I was consumed in it. Painted in it.
Overwhelmed by my nervousness, I laughed.
“What? I.. I, don’t”
And before I could get out another word, his lips were meeting mine. In this moment, my lungs begged for air, as if it all had been sucked out of the room. I had to get out, I could no longer be there.
I stood up, and he studied me, wearing confusion.
“I’m sorry, I have to go home. I forgot I have to be home right now,” I managed to choke out.
I had to get out, and I had to get out quick. As the pieces of me began to fall away, I stepped toward the door.
“Okay. Well, let me walk you out.”
Unsure of how long I had before I completely fell apart, I assured him I could make it alone. He nodded in response and let his eyes trail me as I walked out.
And I questioned all along, Can I really make it alone?
Crushed by my own failed attempt to feel anything at all, I collected what was left of me, and carried myself to my car, to fall apart. And I was drowning, all over again.