[Companion piece to Asher: The Exception.]
He kisses me.
He kisses me, and though I do not want to understand why a few weeks before he said my affections were to be blamed on the wine, I do. I understand that accepting my love is dangerous. I understand that he has made his choice and that I am not it. I know that I am a coward, and that I have always been a coward, and I hate him for letting me get away with it.
The wine is not the cause, but the catalyst. I hate that it takes inebriation to make us look at one another honestly. This is not the first time we have gazed into one another’s eyes half-hazed and dumb.
I love him. I have always loved him. He knows it.
It is because I love him that it is now my turn to say it is the wine. Whatever we both may want, he has made his choice, and I am not it. Though I want so desperately to wrap him in my arms and carry him away into the darkness of my room, I do not. I lift my hands to take his flushed face and I kiss him sweetly. I kiss him the way I should have kissed him before I left. I kiss him the way I should have kissed him every day for the last twenty years.
“Asher,” I whisper. He is taller than me, but when it comes to bulk, I outmuscle him. There is no doubt that in a true test of strength I would overpower him every time, and yet it is me that is always beneath him. It is me that is pinned to the wall. His fingers press to my lips to silence me. He wants to kiss, and so I let him, and I kiss back, but still I whisper again: “Asher.”
No matter how badly I want him, he has made his choice, and I am not it. I cannot let him break his faith this way. I cannot tempt him into darkness because I am greedy and sinful. Though I want to, I love him, and I have filled his life with enough regret already. I remember the distortion of his eyes through the cheap plastic bag, the tiny purple pills resting within, and how there was so much encouragement in his voice when he said: Come out of your cave, you devil. There are stars waiting for you.
I do not want to close the door on his vibrant, smiling face again. I still remember how hurt he looked.
“Frumosule,” he murmurs.
His hands have drifted to my hips and I know that if I acknowledge that word the way I want to, his fingers will dip into the waist of my trousers and neither of us will be able to stop. I want to tell him he is my sweet boy as I should have once upon a time, but what I say is: “Asher. You’re drunk.”
Defiance is not suited for his fine features, and yet it is what he wears. Sometimes I wonder if he wants me to tear him away from the Church. I wonder if he would come willingly and be with me, or if it would be the last straw; the thing he could use to cut me out forever, to know me as the dracul he always teases me of being, and forget me as a man.
“Not like this,” I say.
I kiss him once more, and guide him away to the sofa. He does not fight me. He settles down with me, cradled beneath my featherless wing, nestled into my side. The television plays terrible late night reruns and we sit in silence.
We are silent because it is the only way we can be together.