© 2023 Kingdom of Pavement

SHORT STORY: BLACK LIES BY LOGAN ROSE



I had been hoping for this moment for months, and I’ll admit it, even for years. I know that makes me look pathetic.


It stopped being every day almost a year ago, but there’s a frequent number of quiet daydreams, still, in which I find myself picturing it: our reunion.


Sometimes, it’s years and years in the future, after other wives and husbands and maybe even kids.


Other times, it’s mascara running at the altar. A white wedding ruined by the black lies of our past.


In the brightest of days and the most indulgent of fantasies, it’s you, returning to me, still young and freed of all ties.


When it finally happened, though, I was nowhere near ready.


I was in his clothes, leaking out his juices, thinking of you despite myself. You must have been thinking about me, too, because I have no explanation for what happened other than some sort of cosmic connection.


Because suddenly, I was in front of you. My once comfortable, complacent eyes widened in shock, and you looked shocked, too.


There we were, in front of each other once again.

I don’t know how, or where, or even when. We must have been on another plane.


I know I wasn’t dreaming because I was wide awake and I don’t dream of you that often anymore.


I know I wasn’t daydreaming because I was cuddled on the couch watching television, and I’m more prone to flights of fancy when I’m alone or in traffic – and because I was interested in the show.


But there you were, more interesting than any television program. Your blue eyes seemed to have dulled over time and I could see them sparking back to life.


I was overcome with a wave of emotion. I felt nauseous, although that could have just been my hangover. Though convinced the experience was real, I was still afraid to talk, as if you might suddenly disappear. I also remembered a pact I had made with myself to never talk to you again, or at least to never utter the first word.

“Hi,” you said finally, as if we were meeting on the old bridge or sitting down to work together on an old group project.


I looked at you, dumbfounded, “after all these years, all you say is ‘hi.’”

“Don’t be dramatic. It’s only been two.”

“Three.”

“But only one, really, since we last spoke,” you pointed out in a matter-of-fact tone. “How many since we spoke honestly?” I countered.


“Probably over three,” you said with a deep breath, “I’m sorry I lied to you.” “About what?” You looked at me, guiltily. Your silence said, everything.

“What are you even doing here?”


“Where?” You asked, innocently.


“I don’t know,” I replied. The honesty of my own confession startled me and the truth opened up like a flower: “I never really imagined it like this.”


“Good to know you’ve imagined it, too.” A honeybee smile tainted the end of your phrase.


I shut it down. “Honestly, I’m more shocked that you ever even thought about me”


“I never really stopped,” you informed me, eyes ablaze.


“Don’t torture me like that,” I whispered, trying to remove the stinger that was already so deeply embedded.


“I’m sorry it’s so bad to see me,” you said. Honey sweet.

“It’s not. I just... it’s too late.”

God, I was beginning to sound like some cheap romance cliché. “Too late for what?” You asked, with an almost childlike curiosity. “This? Us? Whatever this is.”

“Well, what are we doing?”

“I don’t know... communicating?”

You stared at me.

“Cosmically?” I continued, searching for an explanation. “Isn’t that supposed to be impossible?”


“Sure. Really, I have no idea what’s happening.” Again, the truth of my cluelessness ripped my chest open. My beating heart spilled through my mouth: “But I did always think we could transcend what was possible.”


“I know,” you smiled, “you wrote it to me in letters.”


“I still have them. On my desk. At home”


“Figured you would have burned them by now... you’re not at home?”


“I was going to send them to you, ten years later... and no.”


“Like we used to joke about.”


I watched the mystery of my whereabouts make you cringe and noted your silence on the matter.


“It wasn’t ever really a joke,” I affirmed, our sentiment becoming more important than any geography.


“I know it wasn’t,” you agreed. “How did things get so messy?”


I laughed, recognizing the lunacy of this whole situation, of our entire history as the virtuosos of ill-fated magic.


“I don’t know. It would have been nice if we could have done this while we were dating.”


“Done what?”

“Whatever we’re doing. I’m sorry I look so terrible.”

“You look beautiful.”


I looked at you for a moment, hard. Not ready to present my heart for the slaughter.


“My favorite moments were when you looked like this. Comfortable. Happy. Although I have to say, I preferred you in my clothes.”

I softened, adjusted my sweatpants, his sweatpants. I pulled on the sleeves of my similarly borrowed sweatshirt, as if acknowledging the betrayal.


“I still have yours, you know.” My mind was overcome with the soft fabric of your sweater, folded up in the back of my closet and still possessing your smell after almost three years.

You looked at me tenderly for a moment.

“Can I touch you?” You asked me, as if you had every right.


I looked at you for a moment, unsure. Then, I stuck out my hand, cautiously, as if I were reaching towards a fire.


You touched me and I felt the warmth of an old flame. I had been waiting three years to feel that heat.

“It’s still there.” I said.

You seemed to know just what I was talking about.


“It always has been.”


In that moment, I knew it always would be.


“Don’t ever hide it from me again,” I demanded.


You looked at me, the guilt peeking through.


I realized, now, that I had the same guilt.


There were two other people now, wrapped up in the messy entanglement of dreams and heartstrings.


“What are we going to do,” I asked you.


For a split second, I thought you would say, ‘nothing.’ Then I realized that I wanted to say, ‘nothing,’ too.


We looked at each other, knowing without speaking. Silently agreeing that maybe it was enough to know.


Enough to know that we still loved one another. That our love was really was magic. That we really could transcend what was possible.

I leaned in to kiss you. There was a burst of white fire and then I was back on the couch. Cuddled up. Eyes fixed to the television. Living comfortably in a world of white ash and black lies.


For more by Logan Rose, visit logancrose2017.wixsite.com.


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