The Staircase

(short story, NSFW)

She’s close enough to me that I can sense her breathe; far enough away for me to feel the electricity between her body and mine. Nothing particularly special is happening; we’re walking down a public staircase. And yet, that dial, that sensitivity; I know it exists down so low. When she meets my eyes it becomes achingly, sweetly resonant; those eyes a living electricity rod for whatever energy sits behind my own.

I bring my fingers up and let one fingernail just touch the back of her shoulder. It’s soft, and warm; she oozes maternality and gentleness without thinking or actively doing anything. That single touch is a held back expression of what I might otherwise hunger to do—hold her arm firmly, work the fingers of my other hand into the thick tangle of hair at the nape of her neck, press the long part of my stomach solidly against her and sink her into the cool brick wall behind. Catch her involuntary moan with my eyes and eat it whole as I soak into kissing her.

I wake up just thinking about it. And that moment, that way she meets my eyes, tells her and I the rest of the story that could be, with my hips against hers and robustly settled with my upper leg pressed between hers, my whole body knowing exactly where her clit is. It tells her how I’d hold her hair, even as holding her hair tells her what I would do with my mouth on every other part of her body for the rest of time. It’s cloying, how differently my sense of time develops when her eyes are in it. In this minute of fractioned reality, my hand’s on her hips, pressed firmly and lovingly into the wall, then released, and I bring my long fingers up to the incredible white softness of her neck. Every single part of her is a different kind of instrument, connected together by the conductor that is her eyes and her attention.

I spend a lot of time letting her not be afraid of me; I’m afraid of her in the way I’m afraid of the sun—that she’ll blind me with her brilliance and break my heart as she’s now already done. But that inevitable reality is also bound up here in now; that vivid future and uncertain past bringing with it the acceptance that this jewel, this heartbreak is never fully mine.

I’m practicing losing her, always.

A walk next to her has this possibility inherent in it, and that is why walking alongside her has such vivid intensity. She’s listening to every unspoken word I’m saying, me muting myself to match her intentions regarding the sexual energy that exists within me. I know that cloud is so strong that merely letting it be turned on unbidden is tantamount to betrayal. In an honest space between us, the gas already collects in the air, so it’s dishonest to light a match. That flicker, that possibility—the part where I pull one arm around her waist and bring her forehead and soul to mine, both of us taking seconds to go from silent to panting, fiercely, and from whence barely looking at her eyes sends a rush of red light up through my spine and makes me dizzying and falling—that possibility is always latent. I used to believe it was not; that the glowing addictive spark would disappear from my mind one morning without warning. If anything, the opposite is true; that latent dynamic now sits, coiled like the barely-sleeping snake at the base of a kundalini spine.

I haven’t seen her in months. I might not see her in years. Seeing her eyes even through the disjointed grain of a video camera cuts into my soul; it’s disorienting to become so rapidly honest, like being naked in a grocery store. I’ve started to resign myself to the idea that she will always open me up this way; that our bodies will always somehow connect through a thin wire that doesn’t listen to whether she has a girlfriend or not. I listen, of course, to whether she has a girlfriend or not; I don’t put my hand on live electricity. I build houses for earthquakes and I learn how to avoid pulling her open unintentionally. We work around this luminous sinkhole together, unspoken; as much as so many fibres in my being want to pull her open and light the match and just start; that fraction of a touch on her hand that takes a little of her breath and brings her, in that second, into what she knows, into what I know and into inhabiting only the two foot space between us and no space else—as much as I yearn so deeply for the way her face looks when she comes with me, moment-by-moment, exactly in the moment, alongside me to an orgasm wrought by her own fingers, and I cannot tell where she starts and I end—as much as I feel the absence of her hair in my hands and her head in my hands and her shoulder in my hands and every part of her, gently cradled in my hands—as much as I miss even knowing what it feels like to look in her eyes; like a vision of God that I can no longer even explain to myself, but remember only by the memory that it flooded me and overwhelmed me with an intensity I’d never felt before and perhaps won’t again—all this, I know just as deeply as I know she isn’t there, that the shoulder in my dream is in a dream; that ever accidentally finding ourselves alone in this space together would constitute a betrayal of the kind she is trying desperately not to accuse me or herself of again; that wanting is different from allowing, and my love for her leads me away from the very wanting that loves her.

At least in reality. My endless protector protects her even now from this dance she’s so hungrily sought before. It protects me from her eyes, those endless portals that I and seemingly only I am susceptible to tripping into. And so my love pulls back and does its best to listen to all of her, to her coldness and timidity and rage and loyalty to the lover I rarely often felt in her but hear in her words and her choices. My love pulls back to negotiate, that kind of awkward sidle where we navigate to try not to bump into each other, the shuffle where no one meets the other’s eyes.

I’m not waiting, like waiting for someone to be done in a fitting room. I’m longing, truly, and the longing is likely to be a longtime companion; I’ve known her now and I—I just know that. That history in and of itself is intimacy. It means things keep mattering; whether she’s angry or joyful, and oh God—whether she’s safe. She still sits in a deep slice of my soul somewhere, even as we’re zipping up the body bag of the assumed openness and vivid quality of what we used to be able to say to each other; do to each other.

In any moment there is that whispered breath of the divinity we’ve felt and that sits, coiled; waiting for a release that may be infinitely, forever stalled.

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