‘Tell me everything,’ he says.
It’s getting darker outside, and his room feels colder.
‘I don’t know. Everything, from the beginning.’
I smile and bury my head in his pillow, imagining the love that could grow in his heart for the baby I was before I became his baby.
‘I have memories from the age of two.’
‘That’s fine. Start there. I crave your beginnings, too.’
I laugh nervously and think about what to say this time. Then all I feel is sadness. I realise he is asking me who I am. My laughter is an extension, it’s terror. If I didn’t laugh, I would ask myself the same thing.
I can’t stop tracing my veins, as if travelling back at the speed of light on a roadmap of scars, remembering every bruise, every time I got back on my feet. He puts his hand on mine.
‘It’s all starting to feel a little intrusive. First you read my mind, then you ask me for more stories. There’s only so far down I can dig before it hurts, but when I do, I find you already there waiting for me.’
‘Did I just see fear in you?’ he smiles, and I can almost feel the warmth in his voice warming my skin. ‘Fear that you’ll lose your shiny newness, that you’ll lose your wonder, that you’ll become someone I talk about to my friends instead of being the one I want to talk to?’
Fear that soon I’ll be standing on the street outside his flat calling and calling because I just have to touch him again. I nod my head.
‘But only someone who doesn’t love you could do that.’
As the armour breaks, I curl up next to him, my bare skin still covered with the rusty marks of the metal. I don’t want to be untouchable. I feel light, and I am happiness, shared happiness. I’ve always liked vulnerability, it’s the only land where I can grow love. But love is so hard sometimes; and so easy now.
‘If anyone else was acting this way about me, I’d think they were a little crazy,’ I say.
‘Wanting to see beyond what I’ve polished up for them to see. I’ve created a whole catalogue of me, presentable and acceptable by most standards,’ I laugh. ‘You’re asking for the drafts. They’re all over the place, got food stains on them. I’d have to look a long time to find them again.’
There’s a thunderstorm raging outside, but he brings hot coffee to bed and I selfishly think that the world can burn or flood or do whatever it is a world so strange does. My world softens under his touch.
‘Yes, but the difference is that you like me,’ he replies. ‘So you like it.’
I finish my cigarette and open the window for a minute. Lightning flashes in the sky and a delicious smell rises from the ground.
He says that I, too, must have a thunderous mind, even though it has quieted down a bit lately. I catch him smiling to himself as I try to explain that it’s not always a pretty sight.
‘I don’t care,’ he says. ‘Show me everything.’