whiskey kisses, strawberry girl

The moon looked so frail that she thought it might shatter if the breeze blew hard enough. It had started to fade in the pink glow of dawn, and soon it was little more than a silver smear on the horizon.

Strawberry sighed, watching her breath mingle with the steam from her coffee. She asked herself for the millionth time what she was doing there. What did she expect? Did she really think he would have changed? That he would show up and suddenly things would be perfect, the way they’d never been before?

“Stupid,” she murmured. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

She leaned over the bridge railing, gazing into the freezing water beneath her. A memory started tugging at her, jumping around in her brain and begging her to pay attention. She frowned as the long-forgotten images seeped into her mind – herself in her kitchen, when she was seven years old. She was wearing mismatched sneakers and too many headbands, and she was grinning widely at her mother.

“Love,” she said pompously, “is like water.”

There was silence, and little Strawberry frowned. “Ask me why.”

“Why?” said her mother wearily.

“Because it grows and changes but it never ever stops,” Strawberry said proudly. “Like a river – it always moves, right? Right, Mom?’

“Yes…” her mother was paying more attention now, smiling slightly. Encouraged by this, Strawberry continued.

“It moves, and it changes, and it grows. That’s the best part. It gets bigger and bigger until it gets to the ocean. That’s huge, you know. And it never disappears, either. It goes into the clouds, and then it rains down, and it just never stops. Never ever ever.”

“It never stops,” Strawberry whispered. She bit her lip, staring at the purple marks on her arms. He didn’t love her like an ocean. He didn’t even love her like a puddle. His feelings for her were blurred by whiskey and vodka and too many other poisons she didn’t want to think of.

And here he was. He walked towards her, smiling a smile she knew all too well. He was confident – sure that she would forgive him, sure that things would go back to the way they’d been before, sure that he couldn’t make a wrong move.

“Hey there,” he grinned.

The slap rang through the still morning air. Strawberry walked away, leaving him stunned behind her.

“Baby,” he yelled after her, “what’s wrong? Hey–”

Strawberry turned around and looked at him. And suddenly she wasn’t scared, and she wasn’t trapped, and she didn’t need him. She was free. A smile danced on her lips, and she chuckled at the shocked look on his face. Turning to walk away, she glanced briefly over her shoulder.

“Fuck you.”

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butterflies

he thought he was in love with her on a bright september day when the leaves were as red as her hair; every time he looked at them his heart stuttered, and his mouth followed suit.

he was sure he was in love with her the first time he went to her house. she showed him her impressive collection of comic books. then she showed him her even more impressive collection of vintage records. then she smiled, and he forgot how to breathe.

he was almost positive he was in love with her the first time they kissed. her eyes were the color of spring and her lips tasted like sunshine and she giggled when their noses squished against each other.

he wondered whether he was really in love with her the night he proposed. she had laughed and cried and now she was snoring next to him, and he was trying to count the freckles on her nose. when he looked at the ring on her finger his heart started racing.

he knew he wasn’t in love with her the day he said ‘i do’. she looked too beautiful to be human, and he felt like he would crumble if she touched him. when he was around her he had trouble keeping his thoughts straight. fiddling with his ring, he watched her try to do the robot to the classical music her parents had insisted on. she yelled at him to join her, and he grinned. and went to dance with the better half of his soul.

love would never be a strong enough word to describe his feelings for her.