Don't you dare tell me that this isn't exactly how you always knew that it would end—with your foot on the threshold, your shadow gunning for the door.
You start every sentence with the same smile. Your lips curl up because you know that I've heard of you before.
"I've been waiting to meet you."
"Oh really." I turn my head, but I see only your glow, your robe rustling your ankles, skimming against the floor.
You're always in my peripheral vision.
"Of course. You can't call ka like that without the whole palace clamoring to know your name."
"So you're impressed."
My laughter is a ruffle. Yours is a stone. It belongs underground, entombed and buried.
"I didn't say that."
You speak like you're weighing each syllable in gold. Maybe you do. Maybe you write down every word you say in gold and ivory and colored glass and bequeath them to everyone who comes looking for you. Each one comes with its own serial number. Limited edition. You'll only hear this once so you better pay attention.
You look at me like you know that I'm looking back.
"Then, please, my pharaoh, allow me an opportunity to change your mind."
I get the worst headaches. I get into these moods where everything is a mirage and I can't slice out what's real in that deluge.
When it starts I can't see anything. I'm immobile and hyperconscious.
The world bends in your direction. There're beads of sweat running down your shoulder blades and flecks of gold and crimson in your eyes, subsuming me from all sides.
The sun catches in your eyelashes. It's the same shade as your mouth when you tilt it towards mine.
We're the tallest people on earth. We encircle it completely. And it's here where we can finally burst open and disappear.
Your voice cracks against my shoulder then whittles down to a rosy whisper on my neck, a soft opalescent sigh. Your eyes are slipping shut, your arm is sticking to my chest. Your lips are pressed into my ear, but it's not your voice I hear when you caress my hair and say, "That was nice, wasn't it?"
I wake up spitting sand. My sheets are too rough and my walls are too close and the night buzzes with some kind of stupid cold silver static sound.
I stomp everywhere. My neck is sore.
I squint at the sky, try to keep you from the winds and the storm clouds.
"Seto, when this is all over—I will find you." You talk like dust now. Like the stuff that dyes the sky purple during sunsets. "I know that the soul has a way of remembering what the body has left behind." Even your eyes have bruises when you look at me. "When our spirits walk the earth again, will you remember this? Will you go looking for me?"
If my arms were any tighter I would dig straight through you. I would cut you in half.
Then the weight in my hands becomes refraction.
You always leave me with the same smile.
Waking up I'm blocking my ears and stumbling around in a blindfold. I'm walking on stilts one thousand feet off the ground. I'm careening and caving and I'm trying not to listen to the silence that follows my footsteps and I'm trying not to wonder why you even bothered showing up at all.
I would have preferred a rain check. Something slick and vague. "Sorry, something else came up.
"I hope you didn't waste too much time waiting for me.
"Maybe next time we'll make it work."
None of these precious little pinky promises where our reflections shake hands and exchange pleasantries and pretend like they can walk and talk and cogitate while you have your fingers crossed behind your back and I am pounding. Trying to catch your attention through a pane of one-way glass.
The number you are trying to reach is no longer in service.
So I never have been very good at keeping my promises. But guess what? Neither have you.
You forgot me first.
You got off easy. You were always unencumbered.
You made me outlive you.