We go for long dry stretches, days, without seeing one another awake, and so you must forgive me for thinking -- for being so stupid as to think -- that all the interest is gone. It's the relentless conditioning of a life spent never measuring up, never being wanted. Mom gave me makeup for my thirteenth birthday and told me solemnly, "You need to learn how to use this so you can be pretty," because I'm not pretty without it, never have been. And I was idealistic enough to think, as an adolescent, as a young adult, that pretty didn't matter, that what mattered was the fact I was tall and commanding, that I owned a room by walking into it, that the world was my stage, that every curtain rose for me. It took me years to learn that commanding is not desirable, that tall is not feminine, that love is only for pretty, happiness is only for pretty, and so I could never have it. I quit the stage, because I wasn't pretty enough to succeed there, either, and drove myself into a life that nearly broke me, where I became small, and quiet, and isolated, and settled. And then I thought I could write my way out of that life, and grew talons on my feet. And that dream fell all to pieces, too.
And that's why it's just so easy to fall into it, the assumption that I will disappoint, that I have become dull and ended. This is the origin of all my insecurities, all my jealousies, the source of the only fight we ever have, and we have it over and over again. I know it's my fault. I'm sorry.
But when I did my crunches balanced on the ball you sat on the weight bench and watched, and I opened my eyes and saw you smiling, shut them again, opened them to find your face changed, serious and observant, opened them again to your smile. And when you finished your reps you stood over me, stood at my feet while I hissed my way through a hundred awkward brick-layers. I watched you upside-down and backwards in the mirrored wall, you, narrow-eyed, tight-lipped, half amused, still as a stalking cat. Not even in the early days, when all this was new, did you ever look on me with such calculating lust. And when we got home your teeth were everywhere, savaging me, your body fluid and fierce and full of certainty.
So there is something to me after all, something my mother could never see, nor any of the boys I loved but who never loved me back. I cannot imagine what it is, but you see it, upside down and backward, narrow-eyed and half amused. I still don't wear makeup. I am sharpening my talons on your skin.