In the coffee shop you walk in fast like you own the damn place and pull up a chair before my stomach gets the chance to settle from the shock of seeing you. These days you seem to turn up everywhere, in everything. But here you are for real, finally in front of me. You have the nerve to be sheepish. It’s not like you to be shy. I realize I’m only wearing mascara. Not even the good kind. I avoid looking at you. We talk small. Your hand finds its way around mine, fits like it used to. Then I’m looking at you. Then you’re blurry. Then you’re wiping the wet from my cheeks and tilt your wrist up towards my nose. New cologne, You smile. I like it, I say. I grab your hand again and touch each finger, so I can remember how they feel the next time you let go. Your nails, so long. I know, I haven’t been biting them, You boast. It almost bothers me, I wish you still got nervous like I do. About us, about anything. Can we go to the car? I ask and you hesitate but we go anyway. The door closes and I settle into you. Such familiar comfort, contorting myself around the center console to cry against your chest like they do in movies, but much less graceful. Then it’s your turn and I listen to the sound of you finally letting your guard down, all too late. I stroke circles on your back imagining I’m carving out some black hole where I could fall endlessly into you, away from you. Someone says I’m sorry. Someone says it’s okay, I’m sorry too. Someone says I love you. I breathe in slowly, trying to learn the smell, the new you. The new you-without-me. The new Us. Out the window the sky begins folding into the earth, and the sun melts against her like a bruise spreading: pink, purple, blue. Night closes in quick as a wink. Someone’s calling your cell phone. There’s a drizzle beginning to dot the windows. I have to go, You say. I stall, but you don’t kiss me before I leave.
Isabella Lopez (she/her) is an English major at Temple University. Much of her writing is inspired by her experiences as a queer woman, dealing with mental illness, and rediscovering religion. When she is not oversharing online, Isabella is probably binging teen soap operas, playing with her dog, or preparing for her 2030 senate campaign.