Our eyes danced from across the room and our faces tried not to give us away. Intriguing disinterest and feigned repose. Glances to our left or right to see if the other was watching and, if not, why. Our looks were attention-starved and we fooled ourselves into thinking that Something was going on, that there was an unrealized bond there that hadn't been named yet, can't possibly have a name.

And you left the room. In your wake was the smell of crushed apples and jasmine. I smelled it through the smoke of the room and lost my appetite, for that had filled me. For a time.

Again, weeks later. The same halting glances, unspoken and unanswerable questions. Recognition. I've seen you before, here, and we never met, but we wanted to, didn't we? Didn't we?

Something called me away, made me turn my head, and when I looked back, you were gone again, like a phantasm or complex illusion. Real and unreal. Your eyes looked haunted, frightened and alert; strong, proud and daring. Afraid of your lack of fear, that's what made you flinch. It was written in your body language, long after you'd left the room, the phrases and quotes of your body firmly imprinted on my psyche. My personal vapor of nuance.

We met again, in a street not too far from a pub. I called your attention, vocalized the recognition. Gave you my number. Disappeared into the shadows of a full moon on a cool July night. The darkness swallowed me up and the sun wouldn't shine for days.

I told you things about me, half-truths and misdirections, evasive answers to pointed questions. You probed and I dodged, acted like I wasn't there when I damn well was. Pride, fear, doubt, confusion, lack of faith- they guided my every step. They made themselves manifest in my gut and my tired, shut eyes. I never told you who I was, who I am, and left you to figure that out on your own. Offered sketchy details about my family, my jobs, my art. I asked questions about yours, surface things that didn't really matter.

A long night of talking in a car and I opened up a world of fantasy, idle imaginings and half-baked philosophies which didn't ring true and were inconsistent. I spit them out of my mouth in a calm, collected tone of voice, like a hypnotist, measured cadence and soft, rich tones. And I scared you, your eyes wide with disbelief that this boy would or even could say such creepy things and make them sound so real and good, so spiritual.

And I lied, utterly, about my past in ways that weren't important but were. More half-truths, this time not about who I was, but who I had been before. The scared, wild, idiotic kid was dead to me then, still is, and I didn't talk about him at all. His grave was cold and filled in with the dirt of vain fancies and blithe secrets.

And you grew tired of the games, the thrust and riposte of each encounter. You found someone else who was not only better at it, but more forgiving than I, less demanding or restrained. Your wanderlust kicked into high gear and the territory of the familiar needed to be left behind for new stomping grounds, broader horizons, meritorious challenges. Both of us became puzzles that didn't want to get solved, didn't want to admit it.

And we still are.

I missed the opportunity to say what I really felt.

"I fucking hate piercings."

There. That wasn't so hard to say, was it?

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