When I was 11 I had a soccer coach who made us run in circles and when we got dizzy he told us to run the other direction to undo the spinning. Imagine the beauty of living in a world where we could just run the other direction every time the world spun in circles; imagine how simple everything would be if we could undo the shit that made us spin in the first place.
It was only one night, but his hands running down her back and his lips on her neck seem to be a broken record in her head. It’s not that she misses his smell or the spark of his skin on hers; she craves touch. Any touch. She craves the touch of his arm on hers or their fingers laced. She misses the touch of his breath on her ear as he whispers sweet nothings. But a “he” is just that, and any he will do, and it’s one thing to be alone but another to be lonely. It’s 1:05 in the morning and she’s drunk but he’s the only one on her mind. And him, and him too. Her head spins and her ears are ringing with the words she should have screamed aloud a long time ago, but the worst thing about falling to pieces is that humans do it so quietly. No one hears her heart crack or the soft patter of dripping blood on new, white sheets, and no one can hear her mismatched breaths as she tries to find someone a little better than him. She’s lying in her bed, in her house, and all she wants to do is go home.
And with those eyes, you could have set the sky on fire, but you chose to burn me instead; together we burned.
I was seated in coach on a flight home. It was a full flight and I was placed in the aisle, grateful that I was not cramped against the window with my knees in my chest. A young woman, about ten years younger than me, with long, brown gold hair and bright green eyes, exchanged a hello with me and sat down to my left. I caught my breath in my throat; she was stunning. Her bright green eyes were rimmed with something more, however; she was tired. She was beaten down, exhausted from holding the world on her shoulders. Maybe it was a long day of travel for herself, or maybe it was something more. Soon after take-off, she had fallen asleep. Her head rested against my shoulder, her hand on my arm. It was the slightest touch I have ever felt, but never shall I forget the way her finger tips felt on the back of my hand: soft and delicate. I never moved or bothered to wake her. When the attendant stopped by, she asked if my wife or I would like anything. I said, “no, we’re good.” The woman lifted her head slightly off my arm, looked into my eyes, and smiled. Maybe she liked the way I looked at her, or maybe she liked how my front teeth aren’t perfectly aligned, or maybe, just maybe, she fell in love for a second. Soon after, she fell asleep just a little closer; just a little closer than before. The plane landed, not a word or a stare from her. Leaving the jetway, she turned, kissed me on the cheek, and said, “I enjoyed our honeymoon.” She walked away, recharged. She no longer looked beaten or weary. She was gorgeous in every way. Her hair grazed the top of her back as she spun on her heels and strutted away. I never saw her again. We left that night not as lovers, but just as brave strangers, looking for a little more.