by Julia Zygiel ’19
She speaks in fragments of dreams, their syrup clinging to her lips, betraying the intensity of her sweetness. She is a waking fantasy, never completely here with me, but always present in my mind, in the pseudo-unreality of my dreams.
She says, “I love you, but not in a way that is overly important. I love my friends and I love french fries and I love memes on Facebook. I love everything and everyone, so why wouldn’t I love you?” I can’t tell her that I love her in a way that is overly dramatic, because I’m afraid our relationship is too tentative, too fragile, and although she affords me such candor, I cannot return the favor.
“Why should saying you love a person be such a scary and formidable thing? We can’t say it too early, too late. What’s wrong with loving a person?”
The crease that forms in her forehead makes me want to devour each and every thought she has. I want to discuss the movement of the stars and emotion with her until the sun itself burns out. I don’t say that.
Instead, I say, “There’s nothing wrong with loving a person. I love you, too.” More than french fries and memes, my mind continues, but my anxious heart drowns the thought out with the noise of my blood rushing from my brain to my limbs and back again. I am consumed by the sound of it and the possibility to open my mouth and speak is as far away as the North Pole.
She watches me when I am flipping the television channel, or syncing my phone up to the speaker. She touches my arm gently when I groan and stretch in the morning. If I were braver I would ask what she is thinking about. I let her touch me, do not touch back. I am fearful of upsetting the mood which makes her act this way, though I have never done so.
“Isn’t it so strange that we met? That, out of everything that could have possibly happened, we both managed to strike each and every chord necessary for meeting? It’s wild to me.”
I nod, unsure if she sees it. “Strange, but good.”
“Great,” she agrees.
Silence is filled with warmth, and I am never sure if it is awkward or not. It is a grey area, almost, but not quite.
I think of simply messaging her, “hey, i love you, you know.” but I can’t, so I don’t, and I sort of hate myself for it.
She says thank you.
“For caressing my hair, for electric touches.”
She tells me I’m cute.
She shakes at night and I hold her tighter. Always, I ask what’s wrong. Always, she says, “Nothing at all, I’m just cold.”
One night it changes, one night is different.
“I’m so scared.” She doesn’t sound far away this time. Our limbs are intertwined, but still I wish to pull her closer.
“Everything.” In a moment, the dream girl is real, is no longer impossible. Her personhood becomes tangible to me.
My mind races around and constricts my words until they are stuck in the back of my throat like peanut butter. I swallow them and they disappear into the tangle of organs within me. Struggling, I drift off to sleep, hoping she will too.
She says she loves me, but I can’t be sure. What if it is only the dream?