“I’ve never cheated on my wife before.”

The words emerge from his mouth, swirl, spin, land on my tongue, only a breath away from his own. The words are ice, my mouth slows, shuts around the cold. I will not go where I am not wanted. But his hands have not heard his words and do not release their grasp. The words take the moment, a warm pocket of time, and pull it inside out. The moment, all of its seconds behind, above, below us, all of them building towards something. Some thing that is gone now.

The things I have forgotten, or rather, not forgotten, just…. put aside, ignored, for the sake of the moment, these things fill my mind and I am remembering all of his words, from all the other ruined moments, over all the years we’ve known, or not known, each other. These sporadic moments together only amounting to a number of hours, but spread over a decade or more, maybe, I can’t add it all up, right now. The cold has spread from my tongue to the roof of my mouth, and my brain is freezing, now.

A moment within the moment, the cold is pitying. I only invited him to dinner. I’d hoped we would end up where we were, minus the ice of course, but I know he is married now, I knew he might walk away. It was always his choice.

From the beginning, so long ago it’s almost only a story I tell to myself, I only ever wanted a kiss. I asked for a kiss. One kiss. Knowing everything he knew, I still asked, and he said yes. Every time, he says yes.

And every time I ask again, knowing everything I know. Knowing that every time, after he says yes, he will say something else, a word, a phrase, coated with truth and reality and with a breath, my pleasure from the moment will have ended.

I can say, “Then don’t.” I can say, “You should go.”

I say nothing. I stare. Cold pity pours from my eyes into his. His deep, brown, intelligent, sensitive, kind eyes. I love his eyes. His long lashes, his smooth olive skin, his small ears. I love his soft brown hair, though there is less of it each time I see him. I love the curve of his lips and his tentative tongue. I love the way his hand feels holding mine. In those stories, we are always holding hands, though that only ever happened once.

My silence, my closed mouth, my frozen moment, his words seem to affect only me. His hands are still moving, still holding tight. Despite everything we both know, he does not let go. This is what I wanted. To be wanted.

Words continue to flow from his mouth. What does he want from me? Forgiveness? Permission? A line drawn in the bed sheets. If he doesn’t cross it, it doesn’t count.

Pity dissipates. I’ve done it again. I’ve made up a story. I’ve made myself the hero and given him his lines, and for a while, he played along. But the truth is that he doesn’t really want me, or rather, he does, but only because I have, again, handed him this perfectly crafted moment of passion minus the responsibility of all the moments that must follow.

In a moment, I will be alone, and then…
I will cry over the death
Of a moment, again.

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