She grew up snail slow in a too fast town. She wanted to watch leaves fall and inhale exhaust from the cars that drove by. She wanted the time to fixate, to burn holes in things just by staring at them.
And there were these things she'd get about her face. These feelings. These
she'd get, about her face. These allergic reactions to her adolescence, these blinding red assertions of insecurity. The bane of her physical existence, the reason boys wouldn't even look at her when she wore that purple push-up and tried extra hard to purse her chap-sticked lips.
And he grew up too fast in a super slow town. He wanted to write books and build rockets that would launch the pages into outerspace. Whatever was out there could read them, too.
But he'd get these things about his shoulders. These
about his shoulders that went straight down instead of out like he thought they should have. The things he stared at most in the mirror after a shower, the reason he would never take his shirt off in public, or go shopping with his mom who offered to sew padding into all of his shirts.
And together, they would silently agree not to the notice the doubt in each other's eyes. They'd hold hands and buy each other presents when it wasn't any kind of holiday. They'd kiss and wonder if they were doing it right. They'd kiss and wonder why anyone would ever want to touch those cheeks with the scabs and scars, or those bony shoulders that no real man would have.
"Do you love me?" he asked.
"No," she said.
"I don't believe you."
"Do you love me?" she said.
"Yes," he answered.
"Well I'm dying. I've got cancer."
"No you don't."
"Would you love me if I did?"
"No. I don't think so."
"What a terrible thing to say."
"Okay, it's not that I necessarily wouldn't. I just can't imagine a time and place when I'd have to decide."
"I don't love you," she whispered.
"I don't believe you."
They'd lie in each other's arms and talk as though there were an audience.
But there were these things she'd get about his shoulders. These feelings about how they went straight down instead of out like she knew they should. He would never take off his shirt unless the lights were off and all of his clothes had pads stitched into the shoulders.
And there were these things he'd get about her face. He'd get feelings about the bumps that only seemed to multiply. All the make-up she wore and that ever present purple bra that somehow made her boobs look bigger, and closer together than they actually were, or something.
But when together, they would silently agree to live like question marks, sympathizing with each other's incomprehensible need for reassurance.