Can I tell you something?”
“Yeah.” I wished I could tell him it was okay to keep touching my face, but that would probably be weird. Totally sounded weird in my head. And would be really inappropriate. Totally inappropriate.
His lashes lowered and the lopsided grin appeared. “I always knew you’d be beautiful one day.”
My breath hitched as I sat straighter. What was left of the pizza, just the crust, was totally forgotten. My ears had to be smoking crack or something.
A flush swept across his cheeks as one side of his lips kicked up. “I just never thought I’d get to see how beautiful you’d become.
You’re beautiful, too. I mean, you’re hot,” I blurted out. “But I always knew you would be.” My eyes widened as I realized what just streamed out of my mouth, and his grin turned into a smile. “Oh my God, I did not just say...any of that out loud.”
Tipping his head back, he laughed deeply. And he laughed like he had in those rare instances when something truly amused him. He did so with a freedom I’d envied.
I started to place my hands over my flaming face, but he caught my wrists, holding them between us. His eyes were lighter, dancing. “I can pretend you didn’t say that if that makes you feel better,” he suggested.
Oh yes, that would be fabulous. I nodded.
“I won’t forget it, though.
Så blev allting borta i en mörkröd dimma och ett brus, som först tilltog skrämmande, men så dog dånet småningom bort, och den röda dimman blev tunnare och ljusare, och till sist var den som ett lätt morgondis, innan solen bryter igenom, och det var alldeles ljudlöst, och hon visste att nu dog hon -
Hell...” His voice was thick, rough. “Mallory, you’re...”
“What?” I whispered, feeling my body burn for two very different reasons.
“You’re beautiful.” His gaze dipped, tracking the lacy edges of the bra. “Never thought I’d see you like this. So freaking glad I have. You’re so beautiful, Mallory.
I always wish there was a portal to an unknown and unseen place from my home and yours too. Where the time would always stay froze and nothing changes ever. Where no other human exists except us and everything is utterly beautiful. Where we can say forever and really mean it and live it every single day.
Standing there small among the boxes of Kandy Kakes that rose like brownish cartoon cliffs around him, he resembled the videos I'd seen of sea lions floating angelically among the kelp, black bodies filmed from below, their shapes cut out in bright sunlight, bodies mistakable for those of a human being. I felt the memory of a shadowy arm around me, a watcher again, sitting there on the couch with my boyfriend, watching the animals become prey. Somewhere there were giant whales feeding on creatures too small to see, pressing them against fronds of baleen with a tongue the size of a sedan. There were polar bears killing seals, tearing ovoid chunks from out of their smooth, round bellies. In the surrounding vastness of the warehouse, I heard something scratching against the concrete floor and knew there were rats here, scraping a thin film of nutrient from the dry packaged matter that surrounded them. Life was everywhere, inescapable, imperative.
Kiss your scars. Fall in love with them. They ought to serve as life-affirming reminders—a lingering trace of hope. The only reason we have these scars is because we survived and are still here.
I used to be lost in us. Blurred were the lines that separated us. But now, I see our togetherness in our separateness. I see the you in me and the me in you. We are two independent beings who complement one another like photographs that are beautiful on their own but are enhanced when juxtaposed, creating an altogether new photograph.