First she asks me if I’m afraid, and I shake my head. I am not afraid. I see no reason to be so.
I have never touched a woman’s breast that way. It was a bittersweet sting, a feeling much unlike those times when friends would tease, prancing at the poolside right in front of me, catching my face in the crevasses of their cleavages. This time, she takes my hand slowly, tenderly, as if it were a fragile flake of snow, and spreads my fingers upon her supple chest, near her heartbeat, all the while looking at me with her autumn eyes.
She’s afraid. Her heartbeat tells me so. But why should she be? Is it because she knows that this moment, this very night, means nothing to me?
I hold her, first at the waist, brushing the curve of her hipbone, then trail up her smooth back to an embrace. Her breasts press against me, and I feel her quiver beneath them, see her skin begin to glow under a nervous glaze. She asks me why I’m not afraid, and I stare, silent, submitting to the moon’s call for rising tides before blindly submerging her. On her bed, she gasps for air, and tells me that she wants to drown.
I caress her, knead her, taste her, love her the way I, for the past three years, loved him. I savor her the way I savored him. Devour her the way I did him, the way I did all my men. She calls out my name like a wave in search of shores long eroded, and I plunge into her without thought or remorse, ignoring choice, need, and longing, giving in to the screams of skin.
Between her legs, moist and fertile, she holds me while copper leaves fall from her eyes, welcoming my bitter winter. She writhes beneath me, taking as much of me as she can, her arms and hands pulling me to meld, to be one with her. The tighter she holds me, the deeper I go, boring, grinding madly, stabbing her, tearing her and her dreams asunder. The way he did. To me.
After three years, it is done. I roll off her and face the ceiling, catching my breath, waiting for another season to pass. The room falls silent again, with a hint of chemicals in the air. Shed chemicals reacting like oil to water.
She rises, sitting upright next to me, then with the same tender hand, travels the length of me. I watch her as she does so, seeing how her breath escapes her in brumal clouds, how her sweat hardens to cold crystal. Leaning towards me, she kisses my chest, near my heartbeat, then leaves the bed for the bathroom.
Her frostbite kiss lingers, as though affixing itself to memory, before it relents and fades. Lying there, I hear her weeping beneath the patter of shower spray, and turn my gaze to the ceiling again.
Dark clouds gather. In my hands a ghostly suppleness swims, and in my ears someone’s name floats. Slow deaths flash before me, touching frozen heartbeats. Around me, autumn leaves fall, welcoming chemical winter. And amidst all these, I find myself unafraid still, as snowflakes bearing his name form at the corners of my eyes, and descend painfully upon white jagged shores long eroded.