Not to me.
Not to me.
Not for me.
– Éponine, Les Misérables
Your skin burns. It is morning.
Lately you’ve been learning not to listen to your instincts. Instinct. Such an animal word. You aren’t an animal, despite all evidence to the contrary. Your eyes glow darkly and your smile is feral and sometimes, sometimes (often) your body sings with wanting but your fine leash of control has worked against all temptation. So far.
Today, temptation is a story. You have a story.
You have a story. It itches to pour out of your fingers, bubbles like soda pop behind lips that want to smile and laugh and tease. It is a small story. A funny story. A story that would do no harm, except the first person you think to tell—want to tell; could tell–is someone you promised to stay away from.
Someone you should stay away from.
So far, control is winning. Later, you promise yourself. Later. When the infection burns out the last of your blood. When you heart learns to stop beating. When you don’t feel the instinct (that word again) to turn up your lips, reveal teeth better suited to things other than smiling.
When you aren’t quite so blindsided by the way they make you laugh.
Your fingers hover, still longing to make contact, dancing over the letters that spell out a name. But the urge passes, as it always does. Your willpower wins again, and by now you’re used to how it never really feels like winning.
Once upon a time you made a choice, or maybe it was made for you. Once upon a time, you taught yourself to live without sunlight. You don’t need it, not anymore—the years have taught you to see just as well in the dark—but sometimes you long to stretch your hand out and hold the yellow glow in your palms, pretend it would warm instead of burn.
You think they might be sunlight. You think you might burn. Moth to flame, delicate and easily consumed.
Later, you promise yourself. Later. When they don’t seem to shine quite so bright. When your eyes adjust. When the tides completely turn.
Later, you promise.
Never, you know.