This Time the Pictures Are Gold

We hang photos on your wall. We fill your shelves with books I’ve yet to read. The window is open again, smoke billowing from the other end of your cigarette. They paint pictures on the other side, and you give them names as shapes form: they’re elephants, lilies, penguins — anything you think of in that instant.

I try not to smile, try to give a withering look at the falling cigarette ash, but the corners of my lips curl up. I can’t help myself.

“Oranges,” I say, “None of them look like oranges to you? No?”

You shrug, your eyes glinting as they catch the orange of the setting sun. You saunter over, putting the cigarette out on the way, and drape your arm around me. I don’t like the smell of cigarettes, but I hold your hand anyway. I pull your fingertips toward me and press them against my lips. Somehow, I don’t mind cigarettes when they’re on you.

For a moment we sit in silence, admiring the once-bare walls and the once-empty shelves filled with books you’ve yet to read.

And I remember the nights we spent talking about nothing in particular. I remember the times I heard you tell me about your fears, and the moments you sat quietly beside me, waiting as I tried to breathe again.

I remember being on the phone till the sun is rising, till all my words begin to blur into one. I remember climbing up steps so high to reach my favourite vantage point just so I can see it with you — just because I knew going up wth you would make it new.

It’s funny ’cause I never thought I’ll get here: sitting in an apartment I’d only seen in my imagination. I think about all the decisions I made that led me right to this moment, and my eyebrows furrow, my mind ready to run off tangents. I am ready to go, ready to retreat, ready to abandon this battle.

But you kiss the crease between my brows. You stroke the back of my head like I’m a stray. You trace the cradle of my palm with your thumb. So I don’t run away. Instead, I sit in the quiet. I close my eyes, matching my breathing to yours.

Time will make us new. I don’t know everything, but I know that much. The seconds run by before I can catch them, trap them in glass cases so I can find impossible ways to stretch them into infinity. Time knows I’m afraid to move forward, so time will move for me instead.

Because I can’t freeze moments and keep them replaying again and again. I don’t live in an never-ending loop, looking at the same moment over and over. There’s no such thing as forever unless I’m prepared to repeat the old — but I don’t want that here. I want something new. I want to grow, to stretch, to do more than I thought I can ever do.

I want to still my heart because I know that no matter where time brings me, I will always be able to make my choices. The possibilities don’t end just because I choose to be here. But because I choose to be here, my paths expand. I can’t see where the water meets the sky, and that’s okay. The horizon stretches far into the distance. I want to see where it’ll bring me.

So I get comfortable, get a little mischievous even. I move your hands so they barely trace the arch of my back. I climb above you while you grip the back of my dress because you’re afraid I’d fall. The light dances across my cheeks, showing off a bit of a flush, and I move in closer, stopping right at the edge of your lower lip.

Your lips curl into a smile. You know the look by now, so you trace the small of my back with your fingertips. You pull me closer like you did the first time, as we sink into reverie, as the sunlight bathes us in gold.

What Do You Think?