At first, there was only distance between us, like a flat, endless road through the desert.  Another car seen miles away shimmering in the liquid mirage formed by blacktop under intense heat.  Momentum brought us closer, but still on track, each in our perfect lane headed in opposite directions. We passed in a whisper of dust devils raised by our speed, spinning out and down once the swift second of physics was over.

What turned you? Because it was you who turned first. Had you not, I might still be on that pancaked ribbon of road, speeding toward a destination whose name I now will never know.

But you came back, curious, tailgating, teasing, passing then falling away but always returning, piquing my curiosity enough to follow you willingly onto an off ramp that led exactly nowhere, only then it seemed the dead end was endlessly open, wildly provocative.

We tumbled off the road all together, and then you did it. You cast the bait of one perfect, fatal kiss.  Your lips were chocolate-covered, candy-coated, deadly three-pronged grappling hooks strong enough to hoist my full weight over the wall of my misgivings.  I swallowed them whole and wanted more. You gave it happily and set your hooks like a master.

They lodged deep and caught, just behind my sternum, exactly under my beating, bleeding heart. Removing them was out of the question. Like a reluctant suicide bomber, I could only choose between instant death or the endless sting of cramped emotions too frozen to form other positions. Motionless, afraid to release my fingers from around your hidden weapon, I cherished the strange anguish you gave me and called it love.

Years have worn down the barbs but not enough. Occasionally I tug, and feel the points still sharp enough to pierce the beating muscle that pumps the blood aching with your absence through me. I know enough now to understand that I can move any way I choose, do anything I want as long as I am willing to accept the pain.  And so, I accept it, that beautiful, eternal pain, and while I  may move forward, I know I will never, quite, be able to move on.


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