Just in case, she keeps a catalogue of smiles at the corners of her mouth. I break the seal with my lunacy and unleash them regularly. She says, ‘I love you,’ through her laughter and it takes the corrugated cadence of a car on cattle bars. So I fling myself again and again at the furthest reaches of mania, wondering how much joy I can inject in her life. The answer is infinite, the industry of amusement set to pace with the manufacture of happiness. We have become a self-feeding machine, the product of the product of pleasure.
‘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’ve been hurling myself at the concept my whole life, an unimpeachable pragma, a word very much like love. The laughter of ludus, hatsukoi coy but uncoiled, more amar. That achai longing and its painful encantar. Cuddled like katl wrapped in the flames of anurakti, ishq fuelling shaghaf in the searc for one’s priya. The ur well of grá feeding the flesh pits of pure kama, riotously gratifying rati and unapologetically unpainted anpu. So plaintively pinnariyok but unabashedly ungayok, it is to liefde forever, more mehr than man, wondering if wǔ èr líng says more than I love you.
Arris looked at the walls around us and said, ‘I bet we could knock one down if we wanted.’ Of course, I said, if it’s sound. She strode to each surface, knocked and listened in turn. ‘Well, they all sound amenable to me.’ Her laughter fell out and furnished the room around me, her dreams and intentions colouring everything. ‘We’ll start from the middle and work our way out,’ she said. ‘Making and shaping space as we need it.’ Knock down whatever you want, I told her, I will build the pillars to keep the roof over our heads.
I giggle all the time now thinking about the things that make her laugh. Silly voices and swift caricatures tread the boards of my brain, running ragged the props department of my imagination. Such worth in her mirth though, and my own, in trying characters and satirical takes on self, in loving laughter and putting energy into entertaining what you enjoy. We do our routines together in the round, oblivious of any audience but ourselves, grateful for the glancing approval of strangers but always and only perfecting our performance for each other. All the world’s stage built for us.