We met at a funeral. The sky was thickly overcast with clouds, dribbling miserably all day and forcing the huddle of mourners to shelter in clumps under a few black umbrellas. There was a chill in the air: not only from the strange, deathlike radiation the graveyard gave off and the dismal atmosphere set by the people, but an eerie, watery mist drifted amongst us all, snaking and curling at our fingertips, causing us to have to huddle close to the coffin. My aunt’s passing hung like a burden on all our shoulders; we pulled our black coats tight around us and shifted from black-booted foot to black-booted foot, anxious and struggling for warmth. She stood out for that reason.
She, too, was dressed loyally in black, however she showed no notice of the ill weather. Everyone seemed to hover away from her; she was the only one not standing in a little group so she didn’t have an umbrella to share. Her hair hung spindly and dark with moisture around her shoulders, boots knee-high and her tights seemed thin enough to ladder at the gentlest tugging of a twig, not nearly the material to trap much warmth. Her dress was short, only just long enough to be acceptable; a dangerous V-neck that was laced with a design which from where I was standing, I could interpret as a hundred sprawling roses. A transparent dark material, thin as her tights, made her sleeves. Although her choice of clothing for such an occasion on such a day was questionable, I don’t think that was what seemed to keep people away. The worst part was how she seemed happy.
The rich colors of her personality seemed to outshine the abyss of her outfit. Sometimes when I looked at her, I would see her dress dyed with them. It startled me: my personality was of the deepest, dullest shades, of dreary greys and ancient browns, and such brightness was the precise opposite. My eyes were weary and my face withered to an age I had not yet reached with all the sorrow, yet she was a monstrous and youthful beauty, the impostor humor amongst grief’s widows, content at a funeral. My body naturally repulsed, but my being was intrigued.
As the coffin was lowered into the ground, she caught my eyes. A grin lit up her face. I looked away, my face hot, and was mortified when I noticed her walking over to me, barely pausing to toss a thorned rose into the grave.
Our first date was at a coffee shop. I was terribly awkward and nervous: a large fragment of me believed she would back out. I felt too wrong for her, too posh and yet too poor altogether. My aunt’s death had left me rattled and I was quite sure I must had aged a decade in the days mourning. I was at an attractiveness low, a suspicious time to catch such a wonderous woman for a date. I was paranoid and arrived a good while early.
When she walked in, I saw her dressed in all the colors of her personality, and this time I wasn’t hallucinating. Once again, the weather seemed to have not baffled her: she bore no coat and her clothing choices were questionable. Her hair was dry this time, ruffled from the howling wind. She dumped her bag down cheerfully and slumped into the chair, beaming despite herself.
We ordered our coffees: mine cheap and black, hers sickly sweet and frothed with milk. I quietly prompted introductions.
She was June. My aunt had been her mother’s best friend since middle school so she’d come in her place as she’d lost her mother to cancer recently, too. She had no siblings and her father was out of the picture which is why my aunt had often visited to help with parenting, so she didn’t really have anyone left anymore. The contrast was great: me, destroyed by the passing of an aunt I’d only seen once a year, and yet she could shine in the face of the deaths of two important figures in her life.
She also told me how she had always opposed Society. She thought their ways unjust and longed for the feeling of rebellion and for what they built up as sin. Sweet sin, she said. Sweet like her coffee. She wasn’t surprised when I sheepishly admitted of my obedient, self-sacrificing ways, of how I naturally did what Society thought best. I thought, with the beliefs she’d described, she’d loathe me. I thought I’d loathe her too – she was a sinner – but I didn’t. She said she could tell I was a man of Society and it only amused her.
I noticed how she slurped her coffee downright, frothed milk grazing her nose, and how I sipped on mine politely and occasionally. Even in etiquette we opposed each other.
We were far too different to even try with romance. Society would be embarrassed – who was I to allow myself to date a sinner, an unladylike woman such as herself? She was such a wonderful sinner to be around, though. Every difference of her to me seemed to bring an impossible brightness from the dull colors of my personality.
We had our first kiss in the rain. It was late in the evening, the sky a haughty looming shadow after we’d just left dinner together. She looked a combination of our meeting and our first date: hair beautifully bedraggled and sodden, clothes an assortment of the cheeriest shades darkened slightly and hanging heavy with rain. I clutched a long waterproof coat around myself, hood up, and kept a brisk pace, anxious to be back inside. I’d sensibly worn rainboots after checking the torrential forecast that morning, but she’d just stuck her tongue out at me and grinned poisonously when I pointed out her poor clothing choices. The weather always seemed to be ill in some way when we were together; she claimed it was because the universe was infuriated with our alliance. We met at a funeral, maybe we just had bad luck.
She walked slowly and deliberately, clearly enjoying what she thought was her enemy’s wrath and frustration. I kept glancing back at her: it was irrational to be out in such ruthless weather, she was only begging for some sort of sickness. We needed to hurry up and reach the warmth.
After the hundredth panicked glance back, she grabbed my hands and pulled me in. She reeked of chilled, damp fabric, her breath short and misted against my face. She cupped her hands around her mouth and whispered dramatically, her constant smile tugging to dance back upon her lips: “It’s like the universe is angry right now.”
I pulled away slightly, unnerved and my feet itching to keep walking. I didn’t reply. I barely knew her, and yet the danger of it all made me feel giddy and drunken on her intoxicating presence of sin. It also made me believe she was right with so little reasoning.
Headlights flashed and left spots pirouetting in my eyes; a car sped past, wheel catching in a large puddle and drenching us more than we already were. I stumbled somewhat forward, enough to brush the smile off her lips and replace it with mine. If the universe were angry with me, they decided the perfect punishment would be to poison me more.
I thought we didn’t make sense because we were such opposites. She said it wouldn’t make sense if we were similar, for who would want a knockoff of themselves? Opposites complete each other and make a whole being out of two. Similar people just put two of the same jigsaw pieces together and hope it makes a puzzle.
I also asked her to be my lover then. If I could only be in or out, I don’t think my body could go without her at this point. Holy or unholy, she was a ritual.
Our first anniversary was at a graveyard. A little while over a year since my aunt’s funeral, not much had changed: there was a similar constant drizzling of rain and watery mist as if the site had paused since we left and had unpaused as we’d returned, and people seemed to stray far away from June. Not many people wore such joyous summery attire to visit graves in the middle of winter, I supposed, but since getting to know her I’d come to find it quite ordinary.
Her slight fingers clasped a thorned rose alike the one likely withered beneath the ground. It was of a deep rouge, the color of her lips and of sweet wine. She grinned at me – the same grin she gave me the first time our eyes met, the same grin that poisons me forever – and tossed it against the gravestone, just like before. However, this time I smiled back.