Friday, 18 November 2005

Word count: 1,103

Better Than

Lex never manages to look bored, because he's always thinking. I stopped by to see him, talk to him because he talks to me like I mean something and I'm sick of Pete and Chloe, and working on the farm, and chasing down freaks, and I just want to do something that seems normal.

My normal equals walking through a cornfield to spend the afternoon in a castle with an actual, real, adult instead of teenagers – an adult so rich he has a pool table in his office.

I've never seen Lex eat before. He's never been over for dinner, we've never split a pizza, he's never bought a cookie from the Talon and pretended to get mad at me when I steal half - the smaller half. Mom's probably right, he doesn't eat well. Maybe he doesn't eat at all, just shuts down at night in a corner somewhere, plugged into a wall socket.

He has a bag of m&m's open on his desk, picking at them idly. Not bored, just elsewhere. He's back though, before I'm all the way through the door. Slipping green coated chocolate over his bottom lip and rolling it on his tongue before he bites down.

If he ever got his lip pierced I would buy him a tiny silver lock-charm to hang from the loop, to make sure he never kissed a soul.

He throws an m&m at me, and I catch it without thinking. I could have caught it in my mouth, if I had been paying attention. Makes me wonder how much I've missed out on, dreaming instead. I pop it into my mouth, tasting the red and the chocolate. It's the same temperature as the air in my lungs, but it burns down my throat.

I wish I was a sleek as Lex, as polished and refined. I slouch against the brick wall behind his desk, resting my palms against the cool of the windowsill. He swivels in his chair to watch me, leaning back. Not so much like a lord of the manor on this side of the desk, more like a bored house-sitter playing at being important, a computer running on idle. The afternoon light falls past me, tumbling to the floor. It's a beautiful day outside.

I tell him about the new lunches at school, all different salads and low fat and rubbish. The salads are good, but there's onion in them, and not enough lettuce. Lex smiles in a way that he never does for photos, and tells me his dad doesn't eat lettuce. He sees it as paying for water trapped in a nothing plant. When Lex was a kid, and his father tried to force him to eat nasty foods, Lex would point at the lettuce on his father's plate. His mother thought it was endearing, his father taught him life wasn't fair.

What didn't you like to eat? I ask. Lex's eyes are warm on me. Just about everything at some stage or another, made boarding schools a pain. He slips another candy between his lips, his tongue working behind his teeth, stripping it of its dye. I would keep you in my room, I think, and feed you nothing but candy and biscuits and pie. I tell him the only things I don't eat are onion and peas. He nods, says they're good choices of things to hate. Onion is just the poor man's garlic.

I reach past him and grab a handful of candy, putting it all in my mouth. I wish vaguely that I could make it look like something more than some dork eating candy. Lex can make a swallow look like seduction, parting his lips is a triumphant conquest. Like he's designed to drive the masses to blood-lust. Watching him eat is like tiny orgasms in my brain. Before this very hour I'd been a food-sex virgin. Lana and her coffee are a million miles away and could never be as good again.

Lex slips another m&m in his mouth. The bare inside of his lips, that part that is hidden when is mouth is closed, is stained a stunted rainbow. His fingertip comes away moist. He isn't flirting with me. I've seen him flirt. It's easier to count the time's I've seen Lex not flirt. I would tie him down and suck candy off his stomach, counting those few times over and over again until we both forgot them.

Lex stares at me like I'm glass, like someone else is using him as a viewfinder, like he can see right through me. I imagine I look the same when I shift my focus, staring into space without a telescope. I imagine Lex carries the look better than I do. I wonder about him. He was there in the shower, he's been around the rocks more than enough. What else changed in Lex that day?

I grab another handful of candy without moving back to the wall, still lost in my dream as Lex looks through me and into his own. Maybe he can see right inside my head, tweezer-like, picking at my thoughts like specks of dust on a shirt. Maybe he can know a person, from the inside out, just by looking at them. Soul-scanner. Maybe he's just Lex, gifted with being himself, the luckiest of them all. Lucky that nothing shifted that couldn't be mended.

Part of me wants to click the power button I imagine rests at his hip, and pull away the skin over his chest, poking about inside with some tape and some gum and fix him up. He wouldn't be able to charge up just anywhere. Lionel would be able to trace the power drain, and send his spyware into Lex and see what I'd done. We would go down to the garage, and pull all the car batteries from their metal and grease abdomens. Pile them up in the porche that never replaced the one that crashed off the bridge, and we'd drive away.

I pick out a candy, my fingers like pliers but gentle on flesh, belonging to someone else. I drop my hand and press the candy to his mouth, the red showing up like a stain against his lips. Lex looks at me, really at me, and the warmth of his mouth is a tease unintended. My fingers come away slightly damp. Lex stares at me, his eyes blue like chips of ice and slices of sky and a river that replaced his blood.

He pulls me down and kisses me.

I reach for his hip, and the off switch.