A man that should be on horseback.
Passionate and strange: his eyes give out a permanent stare that makes him look both wild and mysterious. Like Christopher Walken. It is also a look that makes him seem lonely. He looks like maybe he has seen things he hasn't wanted to.
But he is heavier than he appears. At night when he gets into bed the mattress dips and I roll towards him. He is always warm to the touch. Since the first time he stayed, he falls asleep with his arms wrapped around me, pulling me close. Sometimes I think he is going to pull me through his skin and inside of him. Swallow me up. It is a good feeling. Safe. Even if during the night we separate, there is always some part of us touching; his foot on mine, my leg stretched over his thigh, my fingers on the inside of his elbow, his hand between my legs, or holding hands, linking fingers.
I would not tell the police all of these things. Except if they asked if I loved him.
Last night he came home in the early hours of the morning. He slept in the living room so as not to wake me. Or so he said. I was awake, waiting for him. I could hear the TV on low. Something with car chases and guns. Screeching brakes and shots, muffled fast-paced voices, the odd explosion, the lick of fire. Cops and robbers. Ivan likes these sorts of films
If he had slept in the bed with me then I would have felt the bracelet as he wrapped his arms around me. It is all getting very complicated.
Ivan is at he door, waiting for me to kiss him goodbye and give him the shopping list. He is stroking his right cheek. There is a patch of downy hair there that he stokes when there is time to bide or he is waiting for me. His jacket is making regular shiny nylon noises with the movement and a link of the bracelet keeps peeking out from the sleeve as it rises up his arm. Everything could have been sorted out very quickly if he had come to bed with me last night. Pillow-talk. Secrets. Revelations. Apologies. Forgiveness. Kissing. Sex as the darkness turned grainy in the first light.
I enjoy kissing Ivan in the hallway. It is our special place. The place I first saw him, standing in my doorway, the light behind him. He had a presence. Something within him that sang. His energy was good. I can tell these things, as can my mother and sister, Skye. The world seems to like him. The air holds him fast, I think.
He opens the door and the light from the landing skylight falls into the hallway. I give him the shopping list; he tucks it into a pocket without looking at it. The sun is warm on my fingers curled around the back of his neck. He kisses me and then hugs me close. I can feel the edge of the bracelet, the bit with his name on top and initials underneath, digging into my flesh beneath the shoulder blade. I think perhaps it will cut me.
"I love you," I say.
"I love you too," he says.
I follow him out onto the landing and watch him go down the first flight of steps, listen to him as he descends the next three flights to the ground floor. He takes the stairs fast, on the inside, his white hand on the oak banister sliding and squeaking all the way down. The floor at the bottom is tiled with black and white squares. Ten steps to the main front door. I can hear him opening it.
From Yellow by Janni Visman, pages 3-15. Copyright Janni Visman 2005. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Viking USA.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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