You touched my wrist.
This is how it began. I caught it, fleeting as it was. A rare moment where you know exactly what is happening to you, and how. It was only this on that first night at the bar, but I felt your hand on my wrist all the way home and I sat up and stared at the wall until the moon disappeared. It seemed funny at the time, just short of ridiculous. I was cultivating a broken heart and it wasn’t supposed to rearrange itself so quickly. It felt – distasteful – how easily I fell. Did you think about me that night too? Were you telling yourself a story about how you had touched a woman’s wrist and felt the pulse of her under your index finger? How it had been a moment and nothing more, the kind you no longer considered yours to take?
Did you go back to your room and sense the missed connection, the idea that something had been lost? You had stopped me one the way back from the bathroom as I was leaving. It was all there as you leaned in and said you liked my dress. I thought – absurdly – that you might kiss me right there with our workmates still at the bar, and it made you frown when I laughed. What if I hadn’t laughed? What if I had kissed you outside that bathroom door, and what if we had left the bar together? What if you hadn’t left me to walk home alone.
I think it would have been a drunken, unremarkable fuck. You would have been fighting the vodka for sensation. We might have gotten it out of our system right then and there, this newly single girl and this satisfied married man. Challenging our status in an act of rebellion before acquiescing, settling down. If this had been our first experience – bold and blunt in the way of sex with a stranger, might we have packed up and walked away the very next day? Was resistance our biggest mistake in the end?
It led after-all to this. Weeks of words, weeks of timorous courting that gave way to weeks of burgeoning desire. That first flirtation, built on the memory of you liking my dress. The hesitant reciprocation, built on the memory of you touching my wrist. And suddenly your name a symbol I sought out, popping up on email, on text, and then emboldened, in the buzz of my phone. Until one waking hour was too long without you.
We imagined each other first. Was that our undoing? By the time I knocked on your hotel door six weeks later our intimacy was already as intricate as any biography. The gift of the digital age – our first few chapters were written before we had even kissed. By the time I disliked your distance, by the time you recognized my need, we had a secret to protect, and perhaps even more, a limit to be tested.
Limerence loves an obstacle after-all. Was that the secret of our great passion then, Mack? As simple an equation as unrestrained appetite meeting constrained circumstance? Advance and retreat, left and right, infatuation elevated to obsession through our little dance. Was resistance our biggest mistake in the end?
Or had the mistake been made long before we met, and we were being given a rare and profound chance to fix it? Did the gods hold their breath a little as they introduced us, and did they let it out with a sigh when we both kept on stumbling? You were the mystical one, Mack – were they there that night? Was there something fated in our fall, a desperate cupid’s hope for love to be better than how we had chosen to live it?
I stared at the wall for hours after we met, and I knew my life had somehow changed. A small spark of understanding, an awareness that I was approaching the edge of life as I knew it. Did you stare at the wall and feel it too? Or were you initially unmoved? Was our beginning merely a flirtation that got out of hand – a common desire we forgot to rein in?
Were we fated Mack, or simply making our biggest mistake?
I never once asked if you thought we were a mistake. I never got to hear your soft no, or a resolved and closing yes. The doors continue to open and shut on possible answers, but I am in no way closer to the truth of it.