“All of life happens in 26 lines,” he says, voice matter of fact but still sincere.
“But that’s so short,” I say, the air in my chest exits like my rib cage is a building on fire.
“Count that too, only 23 left,” he says not to me but to the ceiling.
“Don’t speak, maybe we can wait it out,” I lay my head on his bare chest and pull him close.
“Everything ends, even the things we don’t start, our electrons are constantly in motion.” Frozen in place, I stare at him in the dark, suddenly aware of his existence in a way I hadn’t been before.
“Go on, say something,” he requests.
“How?” I ask, searching for a line from Austen or Shakespeare about how to love someone that can never truly be yours. Just borrowed. Kind of like an overdue library book. Like the longer I have him, the more it will cost me in the end.
“Maybe if you loved me less, you could talk about it more,” he says to the ceiling again.
“Now there’s only 14 lines left” I say after a few minutes, unsure of how to say what I really want to.
Of course he knows what I mean and just says, “I love you too.” Pulling the covers up over my head, I turn away from him and wait. Queerly, he wraps his arms around me. Reluctantly, I pretend to hate it because it is easier. Silently, I wish it would never end.
The darkness of the room envelopes me, I decide it’ll be best if I don’t look at him. Usually that’s the worst part of goodbye: the look on someone’s face when they realize it’s truly over. Vanishing from their life, fossilized as the look on your face the last time they see you.
We sit quietly in each other’s arms when the end begins. X marks the spot where I feel his arms loosen around my waist. Yawning, I feel myself begin to drift. Zealously, the air in my chest exits like my rib cage is a building on fire.
About the author
Stevie Voss is an emerging writer from Manchester Township, New Jersey. Previously, they have been published in The Ekphrastic Review and accepted in the Scarlet Leaf Review. Their work explores queer romance with influences from Greek mythology, young adult fiction, and graphic novels. When not writing, Stevie is a student at Mercer County Community College majoring in Education. More information on their writing can be found on their social media, @Justtstevie.