Raquel is pretty.
Not hot, not sexy, bad, or “banging” but...pretty.
There’s something innocent in her sexy. Whatever makes her sweet so appealing isn’t from the swing of her hips or the way she makes her golden-nether eyes flutter. No, what I can’t resist is her simplicity of skin, the arch of her spine where the back dips like a sunset into her jeans. A smile full of secrets and a sigh carrying the anatomy of stars, clouds, and void. She’s a cosmic cutie; summer solstice for lips and planets where her eyes should be. A kiss full of whispers that fills you with a feeling easy to describe, but wouldn’t want to tell your mom about. A shame without the guilt to it, sin of the highest piety: she makes me emotionally horny.
There’s such a thing as natural talent; people that are good at something for no reason other than that they’re the one who’s doing it. Seduction is a skill, and whether she was aware of it or not, Raquel was gifted.
“Don’t you hate sports? Why do you have a baseball jersey?” Raquel asks, poking through my esteem and closet.
There’s two kinds of lust, I think. The kind we feel at movie stars or your brothers girlfriend- the one for the unreachable and endless. Then there’s the other especially reserved for that girl that makes funny faces when she wears your glasses, the one that’s yours but just out of reach and inches from your hands.
“So this is what it’s like to have a parole officer.”
She laughs, and the melody, I imagine, is the sound of galaxies being born.
“Is that your grandmother?” She asks, and I nod in a numb silence.
But another person in your heart can be terrifying, the way they echo so warm and easy to a place and memory. She has on socks with skulls across the ankle, size 6 Puma’s leaving imprints on the sands of my mind and studio apartment. Sunday nights well spent not doing much. Mum nothings in the sink, the kids are at the sitter, Making A Murderer on a loop and remnants of Peru leaving Pio Pio marks in green sauce. Taxicab confessions that don’t feel so scripted. Netflix and spills.
So many sanguine sensories, unforgettable as amnesia.
“You have her smile,” She says, and the picture of my grandmother keeps scowling.
Raquel is bright as ever in the darkness of my longing.
She walks along my room, my marble monastery, soft and curious. A note I scribbled on the dresser this morning calls her and she almost reaches to read it, but a reserve catches her and she flinches. She admires the scrap from a distance instead: observing it and the mess of books and loose change with a careful and aloof interest you’re scared to touch, like items in a museum.
I’ve never let a woman in my apartment. For sex or otherwise. I liked the privacy, the sanctity, the heaven of having a hell all to myself. A castle in the corner of a second story cloud- I’d left confidences in the kitchen with the cook too dark to share. The joys and pangs aisling my closet were biblical - an entire library of wounds and darlings these bare rooms bared witness to. Secrets of the deepest matters I’d sooner take to the grave than to a therapist.
So if these walls could talk, they wouldn’t be talking for very long.
“Your mirrors cracked,” She says, and I pretend I never noticed.
“I didn’t notice.” I said.
“Because you never use it.”
“Are you calling me ugly?”
Her face, bright and bold by the smooth bows of her eyebrows, is blue and blushed and full of so many beautiful things. I feel the way people must feel just before they get the idea of getting a tattoo of somebody else’s name – positive, but absolutely fucking insane.
I want to call her beautiful, but I know she would resent it. Raquel doesn’t take kindly to compliments. There were names, sources that I could cite vaguely on as to why. Gerald, David, Joseph and maybe a Tom or two. Men that swore their loves to the fullness moon but were waning, waxing girl-crush poetics until someone was late or a baby bump. Men that left nothing but a trail of dust, smoke, and children in her face.
Assholes or the usual suspects, who’s to say?, the only matter to mine being having to compete with the graves they left behind. I want to call her beautiful, to lay my affection for her luna eyes in words just like the wolves. But I couldn’t. So I didn’t say a word. Keeping my wants all to myself and watching her desperately from a distance, stuffing my lust into a look because she finds words and kisses so questionable.
A loaded look is better. Intent has a wider palate than the tongue.
“What is it?” She says. But I don’t say anything.
She starts to undress in a loud silence, and I watch the subtle fluxes of her spine rippling a Rorschach. Dark and mesmerizing shifts slithering beneath her skin like snakes. She came to me that night like dreams, unexpected and all at once, waiting and ready to take my love and passion like a guillotine. Tracing her finger along my chest and hands, reading the cuts and grooves like a wound or tarot card. I hold her close and not at all, run my hand along her face and side in a distant admiration. The way you hold a marble that shines a certain way when you hold it against the sunlight. I turn cruel and deliberate. At times I found arches on her neck, thighs and lips I would love fiercely. And when I feel her ache, feel her breath and heart pause and quiver, I retreat to a tender but empty caress, then say her name when I meant to sigh.
“What is it,” She whispers, somewhere between exasperation and a beg. “What is it, don’t you want to?”
I’ve never liked sex, although I have enjoyed it. The act goes rotten with analysis if you spend more than a thought on it. As a man, anyway. To penetrate a woman…Christ. There's a moment before momentum moans you on when the act feels terrible and invasive. But nature has its safeguards, and before you have the mind or heart to turn away, a certain sight or sound boils the blood and instinct takes the wheel. Then all is lost, and all is gained.
We’re all slaves to the pleasure principle.
But this was hard to phrase, so instead I traced my name across her chest with my fingertips. Stuck on the stillness that makes my skin feel useless.
"You're so strange," She says, bordering between pensive and thoughtful. "When you're in the moment you really are, but when you're not...you go somewhere.”
I’ve been told that I have the eyes of a pianist - sad and a little lonely. That I looked like the kind of man to slam a door behind him. I can’t remember who said what. The dead tell no tales and I’ve still got grave dirt under my fingernails. My own Gerald’s and David’s I buried in women and bottles, people that left me pregnant with hurt and my own undoing.
“Where do you go?”
And they’re both the same, aren’t they? Children and a heartache. Sometimes you love or just fucking hate them, but no matter what there’s no ripping them from your veins. Incomplete or inconvenient as they are, they’re yours.
"Nowhere," I lie.
Because even when they die, they’re yours.