this is a picture of me on valentine’s day, sitting across from a lover who doesn’t blink twice when i ask her to take my picture, doesn’t recoil from my confidence, doesn’t shake her head when i lack it. at the table next to us, a man with slicked hair and an even greasier heart sat with his legs spread wide, and clicked his tongue when his lover, with as much confidence as she could muster, asked him to promise the opposite of her fear. my lover let me show her how to eat oysters and held my hand across the table, drank most of my wine at my urging because she knows i’d prefer juice but i try to fit in. he leaned back in his chair and told her she was acting like a child. that there was nothing to worry about. that she didn’t need to check his phone, it was all in her head. my lover and i decided to forgo the fancy third course for cookies and netflix. at this point her confidence was gone and her head hung in her hands. “you make me feel like i’m crazy,” she said. “but i know you are lying.” my heart can’t stop eavesdropping. how many conversations had i had like this? how many times did i shy away from the messages on the phone, how many 3am ultimatums? how many dinners were interrupted by my chest in my throat as i begged for a promise opposite of my fear? he stood up from his seat and crossed to hers. slithered his arm around her and i felt her reluctance fighting a stale hope. i looked across my table and asked for paper and pen, and my lover who does not blink at my confidence slid them to me. i wrote:
“your intuition is never wrong. gaslighting is never okay.”
i looked up and my lover saw my fear, which she does not shake her head at. she said we’d make a run for it. i turned to that table and brushed the woman’s arm. breathy i blurted, “this is for you.” she looked up and smiled. i thought, a smile like that should be met with love across the table. a smile like that should be photographed.
“happy valentine’s day,” i said.
my lover and i ran out to the rain. i wonder if she’ll stay longer than i did. i wonder if she knows what new hope lies around her corner. i hope she dares to turn it.