She couldn’t stand the recesses of his mind full of the secrets that only they knew. How the full bloom of a lilac bush presented him pause, the lines of his face smoothing from that blank posture of remembrance. Or how his entire body contracted from her just a little when he’d hear Band of Horses on the radio. She was always trying to convince herself that he wouldn’t leave again, but his love wasn’t the kind of thing you settled into easily. So she did her best to wipe his graffitied heart clean of Her.
They’d met years before, when she was finishing high school and he had his arms around another. Beauty captured him. Her uniqueness given to rapture - big, animal eyes, high cheek bones, a long rounded nose, a perfectly delicate gap between her whitened front teeth. Protruding collar bone exposed through her tiny crop top - like the peak of a mountain he’d like to climb. Before they’d even spoken, he’d decided to have her.
Personality was a crude afterthought. If she wasn’t funny or intelligent enough, he’d convince himself that those qualities didn’t matter much anyway. So long as her immature heart had a softness to it that could conform and mold to his creative hands, the beauty would be enough to hold.
He tormented himself with her accessibility. She was single, panting after him like a love-starved puppy, but he was six years her elder, which wasn’t much on a numerical timeline, but on a social scale had a difference that could sink them both.
While she read “Of Mice and Men” for her English Literature homework, he was signing his name to rent checks and trying on a proper career. He knew he’d have to ask permission of her parents if he wanted to steer clear of faulty accusations, he just wasn’t certain she was worth it. The way she practically begged at his feet, watching his every move, studying and memorizing his personality the way she did, convinced him of her idolatry. Flattered by his old-fashioned ways of asking permission to date, she gave him her dad’s phone number. In her hungry teenage heart, she never once thought his act was less of a consideration and more of a self-preservation. Over a few cups of coffee and an antiquated ritual, she was given to him with an exchange of instructions of care and a firm handshake. The dad-test was passed, the rumors would be kept at bay, and his daughter was free to love a man she didn’t know.
He dove into her and didn’t come up for air. Her grace was his poetry. He made kingdoms from her thoughts. Lovely poems formed, but it was by her very blood that they were assigned to paper. He dipped the bucket down and drew what he could from her. Parasitic, he sucked all of the goodness and magic from her. She was less of a lover and more of a muse. A totem of inspiration to keep his art coming. He was the potter and she, his clay. He wet his hands with her willingness, and molded her the way she'd serve him best.
It didn’t take much for the beauty to dull and become muddled like the stickiness of syrup from the counter where they breakfasted. He was perpetually annoyed with her insistence for his vulnerability. She was drawn to his mystery, but with real moments, when transparency and selflessness meant something, he’d retract, find something to busy his hands with, siphoning her essence through a dismal colander - catching what he could use, dumping the rest down the drain.
He wanted love on his terms, kneaded and forged by his hands, and when her cracks no longer served him, he lumped her back into a ball and threw her with the scraps of every other lover.