It's a mistake to believe the sensual is always obvious, a blatant gut-knotting hunger. There are forms of the sensual which are subtle without being delicate; they nest in your spine and feed from your attentiveness and release memories into your bloodstream once activated, things you can never remember back in your everyday life. The meat of the heart is stitched sideways, sneaking sidereal and dead in the eyes. No one ever thinks to look for the obvious.
For the whole of the winter she would draw pictures in the frost on the window as she sat at he desk, fingernail-doodling, listening to the sun crack the ice on the roof. Down the hall, someone had made constellations with the pushpins, red twine sketching out the shapes between stars. Two floors down I was hiding out in the janitor's closet, having come into work high and snarling and terrified that people were still here on a Sunday night. I gave myself distance with my headphones on, loud enough no one would speak to me, and took the fire escape up to the roof, where I planned to sleep it off. That's how I first met Owen's sister Rissa, who was doing the same, asking me what my deal was. I looked to the sky for a sign, but the sky was empty.
Memories unravel in small details, things you'd never notice, the way certain the river used to smell, the direction of the wind, light in the windows in the building behind you as you looked back to see if I was still there. The image remains, the picture of it in my mind, but there's nothing to it now, thin as muslin, as though it belonged to someone else. I've grown new skin since then and the places where your fingers touched me are no longer stained across my body, my eyes are a little worse, my teeth a little better. I'm not on the medication anymore, and that copper taste that was always at the back of my throat isn't there anymore, I can't bring it back. I still have the words, but I've lost the inflections, the sound of small breaths between sentences and the roll of the vowels, so that to remember what you said is essentially to narrate, in my mind, some half-real mimicry of your voice. Your hair was longer then, longer than it was the last time I saw you, so that when I pulled back from your face strands would cling to mine until your hand went up to brush your hair back over your ears, but I couldn't describe the color, couldn't tell you where the henna ended. I think I've rearranged the things I said that day, stripped out the coughs and the silences, but what I'm left with doesn't feel real, the million details fallen out and away, and even up here on the rooftop tonight I don't really remember you at all.
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- ▼ November (90)