by Melanie Maggard
During your first kiss, he twirls you around, your dress ballooning with atmosphere. You float to the ground, sparkling from the loss of gravity.
You date for months and he still wants more. You bask in his gaze, delight in how he stares at you with craving. Before him, you ached to be seen, to be more.
A week later, he bakes lava cakes and fries mountains of bacon, gives you second helpings without being asked and watches you eat alone as he moves into your apartment.
You shiver at breezes from the edge of the shower curtain, as ghosts float through the steam. But you can’t resist the pull of his warm weight against your back at night, don’t miss the space he fills beside you on the couch.
You tell yourself he loves you, maybe too much, maybe too soon. He’s being sweet, a friend says. Don’t overthink it.
He feeds you, cleans your apartment, runs errands. He never lets you need.
You let him round your edges, try to delight in their smoothness as he spies on you through the bottom of his drained milk glass.
One day, he paints the bedroom walls licorice while depositing a galaxy of glowing stars above you. He moves the bed to the center of the room so he can circle. Around the ceiling fan, he creates a black hole.
Later that night, he stipples charcoal on the surface of his face.
“What are you doing?” you ask, waning beneath the quilted bedspread.
He blinks but doesn’t answer, leaves a sliver on the right side, a shining crescent cupping his cheek. He disappears into the darkness of the hallway, returns with a gift for you, plateaus of fried bologna sandwiches blanketed in mayonnaise.
You tell yourself he loves you, maybe too much. Please call me, a friend says to your phone in his pocket. I’m worried about you.
Each night his eyes are twin hollow moons in orbit as you lay on an avalanche of pillows, swallow your questions with sweet cream and hot fudge. Each bite drowns the bitter fear on your tongue and you remind yourself there are phases to love, feel full empty.
Months later, you can’t get out of bed, your body heavy, crumbs dust-storming the valleys and ridges. You stare at his sunken cheeks, smell the cold gunpowder of his hunger. Now, his kisses taste of granite and snow. His t-shirt is a thin veil on the spiny ridge of his back as he leans over you and wipes your swollen lips.
He says to rest and he’ll get you more food. Sausage pizza and birthday cake. He’ll sing to you if you’re quiet enough to hear.
“But it’s not my birthday,” you whisper, questioning whether you’ve forgotten. You wonder if you’ve eclipsed time, dwarfed it with regrets.
“Yes, it is,” he says. “You’re born again, my round sun.”
“Let’s go out and celebrate,” you plead, your mind is propelled through the shrinking space of the doorway, to be someone else’s world, to burn again.
He coughs, a gaping echo. “We don’t need to leave,” he says, and you stop breathing as you imagine your life in this house, in this room, in this bed, as you’re pulled to leave, pulled to stay.
Melanie Maggard is a flash fiction/CNF writer who loves drabbles. Her flashes have appeared in Cotton Xenomorph, Litro Magazine, The Dribble Drabble Review, X-R-A-Y Magazine, Five Minute Lit, and others. She can be found online at www.melaniemaggard.com and @WriterMMaggard.