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LGBTQ+ Romance

“Listen,” she said, her eyes squinted and her voice the only thing that I cared to hear. Like liquified cinnamon dripping softly into warm hazelnut milk it was, smooth but undeniable, solid. Too specific? Well, she was specific. Unmatched, really. There was a scintillating peculiarity to the way she blinked and to the way she laughed. And she laughed a lot and often – at times laughter burst out of her in unexpected eruptions, but contrary to everyone else I then knew, she made no effort whatsoever to hold it back, to subdue it. She made no effort to subdue herself.

But if in that very moment her voice was silkiness itself, the word cut through the air with an unparalleled sharpness (which, of course, may have been generated by my own senses, rather than by anything else – I was, after all, hypervigilant in her presence, anxious not to miss out on anything). Its verbal valency, collocations, connotations, as well as the vast possibilities offered by semantics, ran through my mind hectically, rapidly. As rapidly as thoughts usually do when you realise you are not ready to stop getting to know somebody, in fact. Hardly did I think her sudden rupture of the comfortable silence that settled in-between our swinging limbs as we crossed the busy road, two figures gleaming under the wintry rays of streetlamps (because then already it was getting dark ridiculously early) would have anything to do with hearing itself. More likely, it would be something bad that’s haunting the tip of her tongue. More likely, it would be the kind of “listen” that’s in the possession of the immaculate ability to end stories that didn’t even get a chance to begin, to transform relationships that were supposedly steady, to trigger the unstoppable metamorphosis of the perception people have of one another. More likely, it would be a revelatory “listen,” indicative of a misconception on my part. Maybe it would be: “Listen, I don’t think this is working out,” or “Listen, I have to tell you something,” or “Listen, I’m not quite who you think I am.” 

“What?” I asked and if her voice was dripping smoothness, a trickling honey, mine came out harsh, as when a walnut is smashed by a rock and what you thought was unbreakable turns out to be pretty fragile. Of course, despite the linguistic whirl in my head, in no way did it occur to me that I should’ve phrased my question differently, that it should’ve been “To what?” instead. 

“To how it flows,” she seemed to have been oblivious to my mental turmoil, and the sentence was paced slowly, evenly, each word was deliberate, its weight measured carefully. It was like an echo of the way she walked, of her regular pitter-patter that wouldn’t get thrown off even if I bumped into her shoulder just to touch her more, just to test whether I’m able to disturb her balance.  

            “What does?” 

            “Life.” 

Was the blood pounding through the palm of her hand, warm against mine, lively and crimson, what she meant? Did my tingling fingertips, laden with the novity of joining a union with her almond skin cells, make a sound? What would that sound like? Like windchimes in the storm probably. Certainly. Or did she hear my heartbeat throbbing the way it did, loud and uncompromising, betraying the utter loss of any sense of coolness and distance I thought I retained before I met her, betraying how warm she already made me feel, so open that she could listen to my heart, hammering as a rain does against the windows in late November when you already wish for it to be snow, serene and quiet, warm in its freezing ubiquity. 

            But that wasn’t what she meant. The way she said the word, life, made it sound self-evident, as if its meaning was dispersed all over and about us, as if you could reach out and scoop it up in the palm of your hand. No, what she meant was not the sound of my body, it was something greater, more apt to play with her reddened ears, with the silver glow perpetually settled in her cheeks. 

I tried to listen to how life flows, but the flow of words in my head kept distracting me.

It was a late afternoon, or perhaps it was an evening, the boundaries of time slid unstoppably under my feet when I was with her. I didn’t know her long then, although I had had an impromptu meeting with her mother that morning during which I was sure I had made a terrible blunder, only I didn’t know which of my utterances did it. Her hair smelled like something straight out of a Christmas tale, and it kept tickling my neck, because we walked so close to each other, bodies brushing. 

            At the back of my mind, I wondered whether I’d ever again be able to smell honey and not think of her walking by my side, whether I’d ever again want to. 

            Alright. So, there I went again. Trying to grasp the flow of life. We were on the street, the city was alive, I was glad I didn’t wear a skirt – it was getting cold. There was an aftertaste of the chocolate waffles we’d just eaten in my mouth; the black coffee was stuck on my tongue. Was it stuck on hers, too? Would I be able to taste it if I kissed her? 

            I never had as many questions about anyone as I had about her. Perhaps I could’ve noted the car passing us by, whirring and steering and cruising the streets, unaware of what it missed in the process, perhaps I could’ve thought about the people sat inside and where they were going – were they a group of friends? A family? Work colleagues who couldn’t stand each other and were desperately counting minutes down to the moment they could open the door and get out on the fresh air that’s not filled the snarky remarks of their co-travellers? Perhaps I could’ve figured that was exactly what she meant, but I didn’t. And, truth be told, even if I did, I’d want her to tell me herself, anyway. I’d want her to be the one to change my life, to say the thing that sticks with me when nothing else does. I’d want her to be the one to say the thing that reverberates through the dark days that seem to stifle everything that’s good. 

So, I asked. “What do you mean?” 

             “Don’t you hear it?” she laughed tenderly. As tenderly as leaves spinning in the air before they fall without a sound, without as much as a whisper greeting the wet, dark soil. “I hear all of it, the steps of that lady hurrying behind us and the lamps twinkling in the dark and the train on the edge of the town with all those people coming home and leaving home and passing through places they’ve never seen and will never see again, and I hear their impatience seeping through the space when the train stops yet again, because they just want to go home, to watch that episode of their favourite tv show they’ve been keeping for later, to light that vanilla candle they bought even though it’s huge and they wouldn’t dare admit to their friends how much they actually paid for it, to live that life barely anyone knows about, and instead they are stuck with a bunch of strangers about whom they hardly think as about people with their own wonders of mundanity as well.”

            I squeezed her hand to indicate that I understood, but she shook her head as if to say that this was what I’d have to put up with if I were to choose her. 

“And I hear the door to that house squeaking as it opens and I hear a dog barking joyously, probably welcoming somebody,” she continued, suddenly elsewhere than I was. “I hear the buzz of the café around the corner, and the frantic heartbeat of someone who’s on a first date and a thought rushes through their mind that makes the palms of their hands sweat so profusely and awkwardly that they have to wipe them on their pants, which act, they realise in the process is even more awkwardly observable. You know what that thought is, tough? They have just come to understand that the person sitting right opposite them, or maybe next to them, is the one, they just know. And I hear the earthquake their ribs react with, I hear it, because I’ve had that thought lately, too, and in-between all the silver cutlery and cinnamon buns maybe a new course of future was just made, and it’s always going to smell like that coffeeshop and it’s going to be turned into a story. In fact, it’s weaved into fond sentences and paragraphs as we speak. 

            And I hear the melodies playing on the square where there’ll be the Christmas market in a few weeks (can we go?), and I hear the laughter of all those who have ever danced in the living room in their socks listening to this song in particular and of those who sang it at the top of their lungs and forgot about the cookies in the oven, I hear it echo through the fairy lights wrapped around the bare maple trees framing the streets and the snowflakes caught on children’s tongues and I hear it resonate through my own memories in sweet reverberations of magic. 

            And I hear my own voice right now and I hear your breath and even that one thought about what the hell am I doing, or saying, but you need to stick with me for a bit longer here, because with the day we’ve had and the way you make me feel, you need to know this, it’s only fair. I know those who pass us by hear the bits of what I’m saying, and it forms a millisecond of their life that they may choose not to pick up, that they may shake off as one shakes off an itch. Or they may hear the sentence that I’m saying just now and feel the flow of life, or maybe I’m simply making them laugh, dramatic as I ever am (maybe start getting used to that, or don’t, as you wish). And even if those people don’t hear me, one way or another we are the tiniest pieces of flow joining each other’s lives for bits and pieces of time and the process is messy and unexpected and inevitable and we are not usually aware of that, but with you I am, because I hear the crimson sting of the blood rising in your cheeks just now and I heard the breath that got caught in your throat when I took your hand for the first time and I’m thinking about for how long the flow of our lives is conjoined and what sounds it has, what sounds it’s going to have for us and for others as we crash into the harmonies that define their worlds. Is it going to be vigorous and dynamic and full of colour and life? I hope so, I hope it’s going to soar and delight and burn and I hope it’s going to ring vividly in the jungle of subdued mumbles that people reduce themselves to, I hope we won’t be afraid of the sound of each other’s words just as you were a moment before (yes, I noticed), I hope that our lungs will buzz with the halcyon flickers of happiness at night, brighter than the stars, and I hope that the sound of our flow, whether it’s going to be one that lasts a day or one that lasts ten weeks or perhaps one that lasts twenty years, is never going to be hesitant or closed off, murmurous, secretive, I hope it’s going to roar with everything we’ve got. Because it never stops flowing, it never stops running, it’s always there. And we can choose how it’s going to sound.” 

            Yeah, I chose her alright. 

November 11, 2021 16:23

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4 comments

128Ve980 Fvr.
02:50 Dec 02, 2021

It's incredible! Sounds like you're describing the act of falling in love.

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Agnes Goldfinch
08:31 Dec 03, 2021

Thank you so much, that's exactly what it is!

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Shouku Nishimiya
19:13 Nov 17, 2021

This is amazing!! Good job!!

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Agnes Goldfinch
07:05 Nov 18, 2021

Thank you so much!

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