We are so porous now that our moods break the skin without even touching. Are you ok, I say, and she tells me not to say it, which I understand but do anyway, wanting to help. She sees me struggling like this and asks, is there anything I can do? I tell her not to worry and worry myself with her concerns. Of course, the happiness filters through too, the joy and love and revelries. This feels amazing, she says, and I don’t respond, she knows full well what happens when we’re near. We fill each other so completely.
‘You always write me laughing,’ she says, smiling. ‘I don’t think I laugh that much, do I?’ Maybe that’s how I like to think of you, I say, maybe that’s how I always think of you, full of the joy that you give me. Arris lays her hand over mine and kisses me swiftly on the cheek. ‘I’m sad sometimes too,’ she says, ‘or angry, preoccupied, tired.’ Her face shifts through emotions like sunlight moves through leaves and breaks a frown with a laugh. ‘You’re going to write this down aren’t you?’ I tell her, this life writes itself.
I have too many feelings, they overflow and pour onto the ground muddying the feet of those closest to me. I collect the runoff in little jars and ferment them in the dark. People invited into my life will often rifle through my closet, searching for warmth or skeletons, and stumble upon these bitter preserves. Why do you keep such things, they say, and I tell them I was raised not to waste. It’s no wonder that you’re sick, they say, leaving me to marinate. One day I will have collected all I can and never feel empty again.
I need you to hate me, I tell her. I don’t know why. I doubt it matters. I just, I’m not comfortable with love, it feels untenable, slippery. Hatred you can hold. You can mould. It’s elemental, material. I can be shaped from hatred. Love is like air with the oxygen sucked out, only atoms apart from suffocation. I love you though, now that I’ve made it sound hollow. So, maybe it’s an acceptance thing. Maybe I can’t accept other people’s feelings. I believe they’re real, only, there’s always going to be that distance, the unimpeachable distance of individuality.