A Conversation

“Do you love me?”

The question hooks my gut and my ribs knot.

It’s halcyon summer, where everything is green and blue.

I look at him, lean limbs and smooth tanned skin; bright eyes and pale hair.

Do I love him?

The question is unsaid but hangs like a corpse from a noose.

It’s summer, and leaves rot on the trees; the land is arid, the corpses of rodents rot in flyblown clusters.

I look at him, too-lean limbs and skin stretched drum-tight; eyes dull and hair like straw; teeth yellow, sclera carmine.

“Will you hold me?”

I tremble a little, heart like a fledgling bird.

My hands seek one another, arms wrapping around his lithe form.

It’s autumn, and the world is a riot of rust and gold, the wind sharp with the promise of ice.

Will I hold him?

He trembles, and I can see the beat of veins in his temples.

My hands hesitate and I smell the sickness oozing from his pores; malignant, hateful.

It’s autumn, and the world is tinted sepia, the wind warm, the scents of rot and stagnation a gasping wheeze.

“Say it’s forever,” he whispers in the dark.

I cannot make promises, afraid of the lie beneath.

I roll my head into him, lips seeking his chest, hand stroking his neck.

It’s winter, and snow chimes against glass like the voices of a crystal choir.

What is forever?

I can make this promise, the last truth.

I press the blade against his throat, lips on his forehead, hand on his fevered neck.

It’s winter, and dust blows against the eaves, rattles on the siding like grit on raw flesh, and it howls unheard beneath my own.