The Future Will Wait
The morning light falls across them like train tracks – the blind half shut. His bare chest rises then falls in a steady motion. He’s a brick of a man, self-confessed. “Take more than a kitchen knife to cut through me.” He fills the space on his side of the bed in a solid, concrete lump.
Later in life – when devotion slips to tired semi-love, revelations abound, she’ll grow repulsed by this body. She’ll think of him as an unruly ham-hock. Sloppy butchering with specks of hair. But she’s not there yet. It’s all still fresh. He is an anchor to which she can moor herself. Hands dug into his shoulders. Legs tight around his waist.
His lips part, and she can see the white of his two front teeth. He lets out a snore and she retracts her hand. She’s been following a yellow fleshy scar on his upper-arm, ghosting her index finger over its grooved edges. His skin is akin to tiger bread. The scar stands out like a beam from a lighthouse. He has more of them on his hands, stretched across the palm, two on his thighs. A single scar, on the left side of his torso, traversing the length of his rib-cage. She’d licked it from base to tip the night before, their first time together. It stung of salt.
He lied about the scarring hours earlier, their limbs sated, curled together. “I got them saving a pretty woman from a burning building. Marks of a hero, really.” He thought it was funny. She let him have the omission and humoured him for more truth. He shrugged and faltered, cheeks red with unease. It was clear he wasn’t ready. She kissed him for an apology.
His breath settles – particles of residue dust swirl above them.
As the weeks weave into months; causality turning to commitment, he’ll reveal his truth. “It happened at home, when I was younger. My sister nearly died.” She’ll feel bad that she pressured him. She’ll tell him so between his sheets. He’ll tell her not to be sorry. He’ll tell her not to mention it again.
Her fingers return to his skin. She skates them slowly.
Sailing on the horizon of near repulsion and the coming collapse of love, she’ll learn beneath truths. Not the patchwork pieces of his cultivated puzzle. He’ll admit, in an argument, that he set the fire when he was seventeen. He rigged it to appear accidental. No one suspected him. He did it to hurt his sister; driven by childish, misplaced spite. His anchor will slip forever loose from the seabed. Actions will speak louder than words. She’ll wonder who her man is.
She runs the backs of her fingers over the scar until he wakes. He turns and kisses her soundly, lips biting at lips. He tastes of possibility. Parched, she drinks him wholly in.
About the author: Emily enjoyed creative writing in 2018, despite everything she may have previously said, and has decided to stick with it for the foreseeable future. She can be found on Twitter @emily__harrison, and has had work published with Ellipsis Zine, Storgy, Soft Cartel, Retreat West and Riggwelter Press to name a few.