He arrived at my front door at dusk, on a Wednesday, wearing an argyle sweater. His mother must have told him how to impress fathers (always wear your feathers in neutral colors).
We went to an art museum, and I let the mercury melt off of my tongue (once thawed, it glowed red and couldn’t stop my brain from speaking) for once. I talked about art while he listened and nervously rubbed his left arm with his right hand. I told him about Auguste and Camille, about how much they loved each other, how she was often naked and cold in his grey studio, and how she went crazy in the end despite how strong and warm his hands were.
In the parking lot of the museum he kissed me while I thought of other things. His hands moved from my shoulders to my waist to my thighs. When he was finished, he pulled back and asked if he could take me out on another date later that week. I narrowed my eyes, “This was a date? I didn’t think this was a date.”
Hurt but not discouraged, he left odd things on my porch after that. Mostly he left mixed-tapes which he labeled, “For You” and filled with nothing but Nico songs. I knew nothing about the flaxen-haired, heavy-lidded German before then, but soon I was filling my small bedroom with her low voice every night. Back then I hid tidy little joints in an antique coin purse, and would walk to the woods behind my parent’s house with Nico mournfully baying in my ears and hide behind a tree and go somewhere else besides Ohio for an hour or so. When I was finished (all evidence crushed beneath my tongue, red becoming mercury again), I would get up, wipe leaves and mud from my jeans, and walk home. I grew to love Nico so much that sometimes I wore fake eyelashes and cut my hair into heavy fringe, though I never dyed my hair blonde or used heroin.
Often in my green fizzy-lifted state, I considered calling him again. He had kissed me and given me Nico, it was the least I could do. Sometimes I did call him, I liked the sound of his voice and I liked the smart things he talked about. Once I asked him to come over, telling him in my own low voice that my parents were gone and I could make some coffee. Ten minutes later he was at the door, his hands empty of mix tape but full of nervous rubs on his arms again. I asked him in but I wouldn’t let my tongue melt, and when he kissed me again I remained as still as one of Rodin’s statues, not feeling, nothing red visible, no saliva or heat coming off of my marble skin. He left in frustration, muttering bitch and cunt under his breath.
When I saw him again I was with you. We were new then, and still slippery with each other. When we took the time to leave the enclave of your dark room we drank coffee in public, cigarettes glowing between our fingers, our heads bent toward one another. He was often where we were, alone and reading a book, grasshopper legs folded in one of the coffee house’s broken chairs. He caught me alone once, grabbing my arm and asking what happened. He used the word ‘us’. What happened to us? His eyes were ice blue and watery behind his thick round glasses, and I couldn’t meet them with my own. I looked down at his shoes, expensive and leather, and I reminded him not too gently that there was no us. I thanked him for Nico and didn’t look for him again.