I met her at a party, it was someone’s birthday, someone introduced us and I fell in love with her thick eyelashes and the dark shadows under her eyes.
‘I don’t sleep,’ she said. ‘I haven’t since I left uni. My body forgot how to do it.’
I said it was impossible to forget how to sleep, and I sounded arrogant because I was terrified that she would excuse herself, say she needed a drink, and not return. She laughed, and I noticed there were shadows in her eyes too.
That first night, we didn’t make love. She floated around my single bedroom flat peering into my refrigerator, my closet, my medicine cabinet. I didn’t know what she was looking for. What are you looking for? I asked.
‘You,’ she replied.
When she found out I was poet, she asked me to read her my poems, and when I said I was shy, she lay on the sofa with a cushion on her face and said she wouldn’t come out until I relented. I read her a dozen, and her sharp intake of breath told me she liked them, though she never said a word.
She didn’t move in, she just never left. And most nights, she slept deeply.
Two months later, I found her standing in the shower, shivering violently. Her nails were blue. I wrapped her in a towel and pulled her into bed. I rubbed her skin and kissed her all over. She was limp and didn’t speak for the rest of the morning.
By evening, I accused her of playing games because I knew this was something serious and I wasn’t ready yet for the world to intrude. When she spoke, I almost clawed her face. She said a man was waiting for her back home.
She stayed another week and there were silences where we used to laugh. We drank to forget that we were soul mates on death row. When we made love, I was rough. I bit her nipple and the inside of her thigh.
She left on a Tuesday while I was out. I told people whom she’d met that she died.