Maybe, if I hold you.
I give a man who approaches me on the street my phone number.
A gesture and the first of several disarming smiles. He falls into step next to me. Asks me why I’m sad.
Do I look sad?
Well, you’re walking like this.
And he slouches over, eyes tugging at the ground. Exaggerated frown.
I straighten my posture and work a smile over with my lips. I don’t want to be undressed like this, with words, by strangers. I don’t like that I’m not invisible when I mean to be.
He’s French, he tells me. From Montreal.
When he smiles his teeth are bright white against the smooth darkness of his skin. He brushes his hand against the small of my back and I force myself not to flinch. I blink for an extra second and can almost feel the chocolate melting on my skin. It’s a day for licking the soft web between fingers. I want to make jewelry from his smile, string his teeth on a necklace, beautiful as pearls.
He makes me laugh as he falls in and out of French.
I would eat pastries on the plate of his abdomen.
I would leave crumbs in his bed.
He asks me about the future as though this is the first of a million conversations. I relax into his ambling pace. I shrug into his presence. Warm. Easy.
I tell him I’m going to Toronto, I think.
And he grimaces.
I hate Toronto.
You could never stop a person on the street to have a conversation in Toronto. It’s big and it’s lonely. It makes me feel small.
That could be good, though. Small means anonymous.
He looks at me again, from the corner of his eye, like he’s fitting something together. Like I’m a puzzle and he just figured out a piece. Like he can see the picture forming.
I don’t want to look sad so I smile.
He tells me I’m beautiful. He says he saw me walking and he had to catch me. He couldn’t let destiny pass him by.
I wonder at that.
When he asks for my number I scramble, caught off-balance, blinded. Stutter it out.
Information falling from my mouthful of marbles. Scattering.
I leave him at the next corner and only look back once, running through traffic. In my hurry to go I forget to check the walk signal. A car honks. I sprint to the curb. A startled deer.
All these possibilities that I dodge traffic to flee from.
Playing songs in my head for lost love. Hating myself for falling backwards, for wanting to lay down in the street and kiss the bumpers of speeding cars. For missing him, still.
For forgetting how to care.
And I think. Maybe I could figure it out. See the bigger picture if I try. If I let someone in.
Answer a call. Maybe.
If I hold you.