the beginnings of love

© Hedi Slimane

© Hedi Slimane

© Hedi Slimane

Had he made promises now forgotten; offered services he could not provide? If so, in addition had he received payment? Were there terms, once agreed upon, that he was breaking? Had words been repeated and could they be found, in leather covers of hard back books or betwixt lyric and note?

He looked at his reflection in the mirror. The skin on his nose was discoloured in small patches, from the flush of adrenaline he reasoned, They would fade. If he accepted responsibility for all of this what would be truthful?

The space that accompanies empty confusion crept into his ears and settled behind his face. For about ten seconds he saw nothing other than the running tap in front of him, steady stream of cold and the liquid soap dispenser, dripping green. He could hear nothing more than a tiny, high pitched tone. How could he have not known to comply with these newly announced but still unwritten rules?

He had received such touches and fleshly attentions with vulnerable honesty and his response in turn had carried all the humility of a penitent. Measurements of accepted practice, that’s what it must be, he reassured himself as he spat foam from his teeth and stemmed the flow.

After so many years of amassing and collecting, more than most might stomach, this was something he had clearly not counted on.

There were two clear options.

1. To take responsibility (with or without guilt) and work towards ensuring it never happened again

2. To fight

Because neither road was unfettered, neither was viable. Could he, should he, accept all accountability especially considering that any gain would only lie in the gentleness of intent?

While he watched his insecurities fade in the mirror, the fluorescent light flickered. The patches on the skin of his nose were already disappearing.

The shower, still running with its occupant involved in ritual, provided enough of a natural barrier between them to make differences acceptable.

© Hedi Slimane

Image: © Hedi Slimane

Story: © The Beginnings of Love by J. L. Nash

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