Monday, December 30, 2013

Shadow Play

1

It is not the sex she's addicted to, but those moments afterwards when endorphins take over the alcohol's job of muddying the brain, keeping her half lit.

For her, it's afterwards that's better than orgasms. Afterwards, when they talk, voices soft as the pillows they lay on, enjoying the cloud of chemical happiness that even bad sex can bring.

The morning sun slivers through the translucent curtains, casting dark shapes on their bare bodies. She can see only half of his smile. Somehow, she trusts him more that way.

They hide nothing. Whatever needs to be concealed, the shadows tuck away for them. They tell each other things, secrets and confessions that only half-lit rooms allow.

This is better than orgasms, she thinks. This, afterwards, when in the faint light, he draws a masterpiece on her hips and back, a painting that only his fingers and her skin can see. In response, she maps the shadows on his face with kisses. Such intimate gestures, it's almost as if they were in love.

She had never been in love, but she imagines this must be a shadow of it: his arm cradling her neck, his head nestled comfortably on her chest.

She does not love him, that is for certain. But when their bodies rest on each other that way, it's easy to believe that she does. She thinks that's good enough for her. Not love, only its silhouette.

He falls asleep, head still resting on her chest. Her slow breathing has become his lullaby. She feels herself falling asleep too, but clutches to wakefulness desperately, if only to see this shadow of love grow darker and then fade until it disappears completely.

When they say goodbye, there is no more tenderness. There may still be a hint of it in his eyes, but she ignores it. When the light shines in full brightness, unimpeded, the shadows disappear.

Like always, she meets someone new, someone to pretend with in half-lit rooms with half lit brains. In a matter of weeks, she is cradling someone else on her chest, rests her head on an unfamiliar arm. It really doesn't matter who he is. Shadows all look the same.

She tells herself that this is how she likes it, fleeting silhouettes that grow and fade and grow and fade quickly and quietly. She tells herself this is painless, that her heart will never get broken this way, that she will always be free. For the most part she believes her own reassurances--though sometimes a thought creeps in: how sad that I have only this--but it is only just a shadow.

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