Now you inhale her because you once read that cyanide smells of sweet almonds. In her bed, after finding each other in a bar you only entered because of its boozy ice-cream sign, her pulse inebriates your fingertips, but she smells of citrus and musk, and, in any case, you wouldn’t know the difference between sweet, or savory, or bitter almonds. What you do know is that in a cathedral colored by a rainbow of broken sunlight, a god asked you why were you dressed like a boy, you fiddled with your rosary, your damp eyes fixed on the ground, the saints gazed up at the high vaults, their backs turned, and everyone you l.v.d walked away. What you do know is that people leave you—you shouldn’t have said hi, you shouldn’t have said yes, and now you must make the first move and run. Run.
But your legs grow anchors that sink at her feet; she takes the lead, and she moves like golden grass on a precipice. So you stay because that’s the thing to do when your spine shivers and curves backwards, and when your shoulder blades almost kiss with a moan.
Then, you’re at an Angolan café, 15 minutes earlier, shaking from an abstinence of her, but ready to be stood up, armed with the best who-gives-a-fuck attitude you can pull off: three espresso shots in a to-go cup, a copy of A Universal History of Infamy, and wrinkled Mountain Dew shorts. She arrives right after you, blue braids rolled into a crown, laced emerald dress, and orders an iced cappuccino topped with foam stars and peppermint in a tall Irish coffee glass. She sits across from you and holds her drink as if cuddling a kitten, until she leans forward to collect a flower that landed on the cover of your book. She bends closer still and ruffles your mohawk before pinning the flower in its tight curls; she declares it’s adorable, but, alas, Borges wore it better.
There: she’s ready to ambush you in a trap of heaven and hell and l—
A passionfruit latte and half a morning later, you share pastéis de nata, and she tells you her ex-boyfriend didn’t eat pastries. He gifted her clothes one third of her size and took her to Weight Watchers. The day they broke up, she donated it all, with tags on, except for this one pair of red pantyhose that she hung next to her stove to store onions and garlic. The word that sticks out is “he.”
Your body flakes between the two of you like the layered pastry crust that fills your mouth; toasted butter and cinnamon, now ash.
Now she comes to you. The two of you in your bed, and she spoons you for an hour that dashes like a second. Your stomach growls so she pulls you out of the blankets and goes to the kitchen. From the living room of your studio apartment, you watch her fumble around your three-shelves pantry and cook your last instant noodles. She adds fried Canadian bacon, peanuts, pineapple bits, sprinkles it with cilantro, and eats this as if it were edible while you squat on the couch like an awkward manga character, picking dead skin from your toes, waiting for her to announce that thank you for letting her try the oddity of you again, but she has to go buy a pack of cigarettes or something to that effect.
Instead, she circles you with a puzzling interest in all four of your betta fish (Godofreda, Ivan-Ivanovich, Terochichimomo, and Bob), and your obsession with Argentinian comic strips (Macanudos and Mafaldas covering the wall behind you); she suggests going to the Cartoon Art Museum tomorrow and perhaps you could do something on Sunday too. She offers you those noodles, and you’ve never eaten anything better.
There: don’t you just lo—
Then it’s 2am, she’s at the karaoke with her “chosen family,” a gang of two friends with the power to disembowel you in the middle of Fisherman’s Wharf and turn you into the newest attraction for tragedy-whore tourists #Sad, #MournLAmour, #LifeIsABitch. When she gets home, she texts that they rocked Shallow better than Lady Gaga could ever do, and that the girls are excited to finally meet you tomorrow. You’re awake because your wardrobe is a void when all you need is something classic, casual, modern, vintage, simple, edgy, sporty, smart, and effortless.
She sends you good night surrounded by four kissing emojis and a sticker of a celebrating llama. You type a heart but delete it. “Night-night” is your reply.
Now she lingers, it’s summer again, the food in your fridge belongs to three people: you, her, us, and your mistrust melts like the tiny marshmallows she puts on your coffee trying to make panda faces, but delivering Rorschach tests that vaguely remind you that you must not lov—
Then she’ll leave, and what will you do when your life is entirely taken, poisoned, by the sweet almondy existence of her? But she’s still here and there’s no antidote for citrus and musk, so you stay just because
Now you love—