Joshua Hansford Lovers in a Limited Time

“Come to bed Jonathan.” I nodded gently and reclined my head against her grandmother’s antique chair. My cherry crackled against the cotton as I dragged the last of the tobacco from the cigarette. Sara rolled over, turning her back to me. Her bed was the only thing in the apartment that didn’t scare me. It was the only part she bothered to clean anymore. I wrapped my arms around her and dropped my head onto the pillow. She shifted and rolled over, facing me. “Good morning,” I said. “It is morning, isn’t it?” “Two in, to be exact.” Sara sighed and dropped her head. Her curled red hair dropped over her eyes. “Short year, long party,” I said, adjusting the blanket around us. “Short for you. It took forever for me.” “That’s cause you waited forever.” “I know.” I pulled her into a hug, kissing her forehead gently. She rolled back a bit, resting her hands on my chest, twirling the blonde hair around her nails. “At least nobody set the dumpster on fire,” I said. Sara laughed and winced. “You okay?” I asked.

1

“Girl parts problem. I’m not taking the chemo very well.” Silence dropped between us like a brick. “Jonathan?” “Yeah?” “Do you love me?” “Uh-huh.” “Why don’t you say so?” “I said it whenever I looked Chris in the eye or gave you a hug. I just never said it loud enough.” “I need to hear it.” “Why?” “You know what happened last time I assumed somebody loved me.” “I love you.” “How much?” “I can’t say. English language doesn’t have the words.” “Even if you ask your Muse?” Sara traced her finger over the naked Greek angel tattooed on my bicep. “Tried, didn’t get an answer. She’s just jealous because you inspire me more.” “Is that so?” “Indeed.” “What do I inspire?” “My dreams, my days at work.”

2

“What about all of your stories and poems?” “You will.” “What?” “I’m not supposed to write about you while I can still touch you.” Her glare suggested I explain myself if I ever wanted to touch her again. “My imagination is storing every piece of you it can. It doesn’t want to miss anything. I’ll write something beautiful to remember you by. I’m sorry that I can’t show it to you now.” “Will you read it to me when you’re done?” “Yep, I promise.”

In the morning I rolled over to Sara’s advances. She took me in her hands and kissed me back to consciousness. We could talk for hours but neither of us said a word when we made love. I sat against the headboard and lit two cigarettes afterwards. “You should quit,” Sara said, emerging from the blanket just enough to smoke, “These things will give you cancer.” “And bad jokes give girl’s grey hairs.” “Doesn’t matter. I’m going to loose it all anyway.” “Maybe not. With all the crap you put in your hair, the chemo might help it.” “Hey! My hair products have never failed me. One of the few things that hasn’t.”

3

I sucked on the cigarette instead of responding. Sara leaned over me to move an ashtray from the nightstand to the headboard. She left the cigarette in it and began tickling my sides. “Smile silly!” I fought to laugh and burn either of us. I dropped my cigarette into the ashtray and began tickling her. “No,” she screamed, “You can’t tickle me!” “Why not,” I asked, grinning. “Because it’s mean and I hate it!” “But I like it.” “Why?” “It’s the only time I see you smile anymore.” Sara’s countenance displayed her surprise. “I like your smile. You look so strong and beautiful every time you smile. It gives you a shield against the world.” Her kiss said what she couldn’t. “I love you,” I said softly, after our cigarettes had burnt out. “Really?” I fell back on the pillow laughing. “Of course I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.” “Sorry, I’ve heard that before,” She said lighting another cigarette.

4

“I know. I’ve heard my best friends say it. Come on, we’ve loafed around long enough.” I patted her thigh and swung my feet out of bed. Sara grumbled, following me through the stacks of clothing and litter in the apartment. I waved a few flies out of my face and began doing dishes so I could have something clean to eat off of, while Sara stared at herself in the mirror indecisively. “What do you want for breakfast?” I asked. “If you do the dishes I’ll make pancakes.” “Deal.” “God damnit!” Sara shouted from the bathroom. I saw an empty pill bottle smack against the floor. The white child safety cap popped off and skipped across the floor. “What’s wrong,” I asked, shaking my hands dry. “I forgot to fill the fucking prescription.” “I’ll run you to the pharmacy after breakfast. No big deal.” “No, don’t bother. It’s not worth it.” Sara crossed her arms and bit her lip. Tears began to well up despite the look of determination in her eyes. I wrapped my arms around her as she began sobbing. “It won’t make a difference, I’ll be dead soon anyway.” “You will if you let go of the time you have.” “What do I have that’s worth all this?” “You may not have much, but it’s no reason to throw it all away.”

5

“Look, just leave me alone.” Sara walked passed me. I grabbed her arm and spun her around to me. “I love you too much to do that.” “Let go of me.” I pulled her closer to me, grabbing both of her wrists. “I’m not going to let go of you, ever. Even if it destroys me. Every day you’re in my life I wonder how I ever got through the day before I met you and it scares the piss out of me to think about how I’ll ever do it again. I’m afraid Sara. I’m afraid of facing the morning sun without you in my arms and I want to run from that fear but I love you too much to do that. I’ve given you my love and my future and I hope to God it’s enough, because it’s all I had left to give.” Sara dropped her head into my chest, but for the first time in weeks, it wasn’t to cry. I wrapped my arms around her and hoped that if I held on tight enough, she’d never leave.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/ 3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

6