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Love tastes like space: a short story

Love tastes like space

He pushes me to answer, wants to hear my voice wrap meaning around his fragile idea. Wants words to act like glue and bandage. I don’t respond, not ready yet, so he pushes me again.

              “What is love? Put it in your own words, come on. You’re the book worm, you’ve read enough to have an idea. We’re in love, aren’t we” (a statement), “…so how would you define it?”

The room does a cool trick where it goes small and big at the same time. Dizzy.

Nothing on my face twitches or tremors. I imagine he sees only languid, slick skin as I turn to face him. He can’t know the conflict as the war of my life roils upward, ready to spill over. Honesty fights with likeability and I wonder…

Tell him?

Spare him?

Tell him?

Be gentle?

I choose and I say,

              “Love has a taste. I can’t speak for its smell or its shape. But it has a taste and it tastes like space.”

A moment drops into the room with iron boots and absolute authority. It’s a tiny moment, but it’s here now. I have started.

              “I don’t mean outer space. Not moon dust and starlight, not that taste. No, love tastes like open space. Freedom. It’s the opposite of sickly and it never makes you thirsty. I can’t think of a food that comes close, but it’s definitely a taste. Love is a sense and the closest sense to it is taste.”

This is not glue and bandage, he must be shook. Dry-mouthed and I’m sure utterly sure of the answer, he asks me,

              “Do I taste like space?”

Eye to eye, I let the war end.

              “Space? No, you taste like cigarettes.”

 

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This piece was written in March 2021 and edited for a competition in May 2021. It won second place in a poetry and prose competition for the Waikato Writers Group. I won a voucher and bought a new lipstick to celebrate.

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