Sunday Morning

Artwork by Tavia U.

Before your new girlfriend re-enters the bedroom, you half-consciously consider how to best greet her, sweating liquor through tangled bedsheets, a number of scenarios run through the rolodex. Should you pretend to be asleep? Should you pick up one of the several decorative pillows from the floor, prop yourself up against the headboard and put on your best, most sensual croon? Hey there beautiful, you would purr.

Before you allow the dilemma to anxiously spiral, you concede that pretending to be asleep is the simplest way to start off your morning together. You spread yourself out, lying on your stomach, positioning your body in a mountain climber-like sprawl, mid-mountain. Past lovers spoke highly of your rear-end, so you position the sheets to haphazardly reveal your tighty whitey underwear. Assure her with your effeminate underpants that you are both confident and safe. Make sure that your faux-revival is elegant and gentle as the door swings open. As she lies back down next to you, sleepily test out a pet name. “Good morning, sweetness.” She’ll love that. She traces your shoulders with her fingers, softly giving you permission to make her coffee.

You might enjoy a brief, yet thorough lovemaking session before starting your day, but she’s made it clear that your morning breath is particularly putrid. You don’t care much for the taste of freshly brushed teeth either, there’s something oddly sterile and distracting about it. You would suggest that the two of you just avoid mouth-to-mouth contact, but her lips are too beautiful. You also worry that if you make love another few times you may accidently fall for her – fall in love that is. Remember the last time that happened? It was good for a while. She left, and you were left thinking her name to yourself at least once a day for the next two years. You think back to the last woman who loved you, so fiercely selfless and committed. You couldn’t drag her along anymore, and as you broke her heart, a cry of betrayal and disbelief poured out. You will never forget the way she wept. A week later, you picked up your stuff from her apartment. She was thin and tired. I’m grieving, she told you. You wish you could heal her, but know that she’ll have to suffer the way you once did, and still do.

“Hello?” she asks as you stare into space. Make sure to not tell her you drift off and spiral into existential crises on a regular basis.

“Sorry, I was just thinking about some work I’ve got to get done.” If you describe yourself as a self-aware workaholic, she’ll imagine fantastic potential in you. You lead her to the kitchen you spent yesterday afternoon obsessively cleaning.

“You’ll have to excuse the mess, I’ve just been so busy lately,” you tell her. Claiming that you believe your clean kitchen is messy will prompt her to imagine all the other ways you “clean up.” She sits by the window, radiation in the morning light.

“I love this little spot,” she tells you. You love her in that spot but keep that thought locked away.

“Milk? Cream? Sugar?” you ask.

“A touch of sugar.” Her coffee, still too hot to drink, sits cradled in her slender and small hands, the steamrolling through and past her nose. Make sure not to stare, women hate that. A soft sigh of delight hums from her lips. Her ability to hold onto a moment, to live within it, is breathtakingly charming. Her delicate energy and soft voice draw you into the present, and all peripheral chaos fades. You set two pieces of bread to toast, and while they cook, offer her the choice between avocado and cream cheese. She thinks carefully, her eyes squinting and brow furrowed. She taps her finger to her lips in careful deliberation. You never once considered breakfast – and what to eat for it – as a critically crucial part of the day. You think to yourself: If only everyday could start like this, at least for a while.

As much as you would like her to stay for the day, she has to get home to study. Instinct tells you to offer her a spare toothbrush and the option to study here, by the window. You would promise to leave her be, only interrupting to bring her snacks and coffee, maybe a backrub or two. You have a compulsion to spiral into infatuation, your head tells you to just let her be. She gathers her things, thanks you for your hospitality and leaves you with a kiss at the door.

Sitting alone in your apartment, dirty dishes piled in the sink, you rap your knuckles on the kitchen table. You pace the apartment and end up in front of the fridge, staring into the chilly glow, travelling through time and space. At some point in every timeline, she inevitably discovers how broken you are. But scattered among the infinite chronologies is a single vision of serenity where she sees every broken part of you, and you fix each other forever. Buried under innumerable scenes of lovesickness, a single, perfect rendition of your union, so pitifully unlikely. You close the refrigerator and sit back down, where she was sitting only a few minutes ago. You let out a sigh, like a dam begging to break under the water’s pressure. You pull out your phone, open a dating app and start swiping.