He glides in with his back erect and his posture perfect, tall, like a man who’s done nothing wrong.
I watch him from our usual spot, a hard backed booth in this dingy bar that used to be a barn. He looks good, better than good in that old leather jacket that stretches across his toned shoulders. His blonde hair swoops back in a soft wave in a way that reminds me of Elvis. I find him more attractive solely because of this.
He slides into the booth across from me and for a moment the brightness of his smile blinds me. The light fills my eyes and in the whiteness a sound as soft as a whisper licks my ear. The warm breath of body heat warms my cheeks as a long and low moan fills the crevices of my mind.
I blink and the white vanishes. He sits before me, still smiling.
The balls on the pool table clack together behind us and I smile back, noticing the subtle sag in his shoulders and the dark puffy rings hanging beneath his eyes.
“You know, I still like your hair like that,” I tell him.
He shrugs with his heavy shoulders. “It’s growing on me.”
A silence falls as our eyes lock.
Are you thinking about it too? I wonder.
His face reveals nothing.
The sound of breaking ice echoes in my head, and a crack snakes it’s way across the edge of my vision. It is a thin line, abrasive and sudden like the splitting of a windshield.
My eye is drawn to the flaw, but I can’t see anything through it; the line is too thin. Sounds escape through it though, reaching out like the muffled tones of a music box that’s continued to play after the lid has been shut. Smothered moans and heavy breaths trickle through, hovering in the air around my ears.
He takes his jacket off and the moment of silence passes. Beneath he is wearing a short sleeved Slayer t-shirt–one of his favourites. I’ve seen him in it so many times.
He folds his forearms over one another and my eyes fall to two thin red lines on his tanned skin. The other lines marring his dark forearms are more faded, browning as they heal. “I keep catching my arms on the boxes at work,” he had explained the day before. Each little line is perfectly straight.
I look at the two new crimson scratches. I know he hasn’t worked since I last saw him.
The sound of a boot stomping through a pool of thin ice fills my ears as another, wider line jerks jaggedly across my vision. I can see into this sliver of darkness now. A dark hand grasps hungrily at a hip, moving up and down the fabric of a striped cotton dress, hugging the curves of her body. The hand moves behind her waist and lower, squeezing and exploring the exciting crevices of a new and unfamiliar body. It slides back to the front and for a moment, it stills.
The moment is fleeting, its hunger returned with a vengeance as it slips between pale thighs.
I look up from his scars, trying to ignore the scene in the flaw on my eye and the noises distorting my reality.
I reach out and touch one of the thin red lines with the tip of my finger. He doesn’t pull away. I look up into his fatigued eyes and speak with a strange fierceness in my voice, “Stop that.”
The larger break in my vision grows, little arms crawling outward like a spreading cancer. I can hear his voice coming loud and clear from the chasm in my vision. “I used you,” it’s so somber, filled with a violent self-hatred.
I can’t see the girl through the cracks, but I can feel her indifference seeping out. She is too drunk to have her feelings hurt by this. She’s is cold and pulls her dress back over her mussed hair. She folds her arms across her chest. She doesn’t dare move closer to him to collect his body heat.
I look back to my friend, my finger still on the thin red line.
He gives me a smile that isn’t half as bright as it had been before.
The voice continues filling the air as it seeps through the cracks, “I used you to get back at her. I involved one of my best friends in this and the stupid thing is, I still want to be with her.”
I see the subtle shifting in the darkness as the pale girl looks at him. The cracks spread, lining my whole vision with spider webs.
“Then she can never know,” she speaks matter-of-factly.
Struggling to see beyond the distorted and warped glass, I look at my friend with unfocused eyes.
I can see fragments of his smile and the dimming light of his sad eyes.
“Stop what?” he asks.
We both explode into a million tiny shards of glass as the truth bursts through, moaning and sobbing like a forgotten ghost. It’s serrated edges cuts deep into our skin, but the facade never falls, our deceit staining the seats of the booth.