Alone But Then Not I danced with the light. Silver angels and blue demons twirled around me. Count Basie caressed my bones and I stretched my body on the carpeted floor. Bass rattled through my ribs, making it hard to breathe, making my heart fall out of rhythm. I was all muscle and tendon, far more butch than femme. I spun and reached. I jumped and flew, if only for a moment. Gravity pulled me down and I rolled, burning my shoulders and hips on the floor. Light flew through the windows, golden and speckled with dust. Nothing mattered but the music and the movement. Sweat soaked my cleavage and ran in thin streams into my eyes. When I couldn’t move anymore, I lay on the floor and stared at the textured ceiling. I don’t know how long I stayed there. Awhile. I lay there and everything fell away. Gid lay on the couch staring at me. There and not there. A bruise rapidly fading. He said nothing. A weird rage lit in my head. All I could see was a whiteness that threatened to blind me. Just having him there poisoned everything. “Beautiful,” he said. “Divine.” He was wrong. Nothing about me was divine. I was young and fat. I was the girl looking out at a world that refused to look back. People either hated me or ignored me. “Someday,” Gid said. “Someday you’ll jump and never come down.” What did that mean? I mean, gravity always won. No matter what you did, you always ended up on the floor trying to catch your breath. “You need to leave me alone,” I said. “I love you,” he said. “No.”
He got off the couch and came to me. He knelt and touched my chin. He wiped a drop of sweat away and smiled. His hand was heavier than it should have been. Too hot. It stopped my lungs and stole away my voice. There were so many things I wanted to say but no words came. Everything hung on the tips of my teeth. “I love you,” he said. I tried to push. I tried to fight. Pain etched my bones. I gagged. He held me to the floor with nothing more than his fingertips and his voice. I couldn’t move or think or breathe and I thought for sure he was going to kill me, but he didn’t. He didn’t kill me. He leaned in and kissed me. Even this close, his face was smoky and blurred with a haze like cigarette smoke. I knew the shape of his body and the smell of his breath. I wanted to know if his lips were thick and red or thin and pale. I wanted to know what color his eyes were and if they carried the narrow menace that made his voice so frightening. But it wasn’t going to happen. All I knew was that his jaw was long and hard. I knew that his nose was narrow and straight. That was it.