He wanted me to know that he was damaged.
He unwrapped another saltwater taffy and stuck it in his mouth. He rolled it from cheek to cheek with his heavy tongue. Does he like the sugar or the salt?
He stared off into the backyard as he sucked on his candy. Until, without warning, he dropped his eyes to where he was twisting the wrapper around, around, around, around, his fat fingers. I wondered if he knew how badly I want to run.
He brought his eyes up to meet mine. I painted on my bravest face. I didn’t want him to see that he was scaring me. He looked back down to his hands and started to weave his web of tall tales…
“Well, you know, I was in the Navy… And some of the things I’ve seen? Well. They damage a person. They are damag-ING.”
An angel behind me whispered “How well do you know this person?” as fear struck like lightning through my soul. I don’t know him at all. But he continued to introduce himself.
“The government has given me many fake birth certificates and identities. I’ve been 13 different people and taken 13 different lives.”
He snapped his mouth shut around the candy and shifted his gaze to the wall.
Twist, twist, twist.
Tick, tick, tick.
It’s getting late.
… Does anyone know where I am?
The taffy wrapper is as twisted as it can be. Useless to him now, he dropped the wax paper harpoon down the long neck of a Corona bottle.
It clinked to the bottom of the glass bottle like an anchor to the ocean floor. He studied his new marine exhibit for a moment and then began again:
“Let me show you something.” He says and got up to retrieve more secrets from inside.
I am left alone to swim in my fear. I want to go home.
He returns all too soon with a ziplock bag full of fake, fake lives. He thinks he’s going to impress me, but I am not a natural blonde.
He peeled each identity out of the plastic bag like he longed to peel off each article of my clothing. Each time he stripped down a new identity I added another layer onto my already too-thick skin.
“I’m falling for you.” Falls from his lips.
He doesn’t know a thing about falling because he doesn’t know a thing about you. Which means he doesn’t know the very first thing about me.
“I’m cold. Let’s go inside.” I say unsure of what else to do.
“Anything for you.”
“Stop it.” Just fucking stop it. “I will be sleeping in the spare room” I announce. And I mean it, too.
Still, he invites me onto the couch for one last surprise. He pats a cushioned spot but I sit on the very edge of the arm like a weary alley cat. I’ve lived my entire life in the wild.
“Move in with me,” he says as he reaches for my hand. I pull my OWN hand onto my lap and make a mental note to never speak to this delusional man again. The flowers on my dress turn into snakes and they start to squeeze. If I had driven myself here I would already be miles away.
He goes to his bookshelf and returns with a book called ‘Love’. He tells me it’s his favorite book. He doesn’t realize that I’m the one who wrote it.
Or that he needs it more than I.
He’s so desperate.
Desperate to feed his salty, starving, heart.
-Rachel Montana, 2016