Jo Unruh

First, you collide.
       You find each other on the Fourth of July, when you both go to see the fireworks at the park alone. When the sky lights like a flashbulb you notice he is watching you instead and you talk and then laugh because you cannot hear one another, and under the champagne and shimmering sky, you exchange numbers.
       You are tight and full of energy, five-foot-two-inches in your tallest heels, but the fierce blue sparkle in your eyes takes up all the space in every room. You meet him three days later at the same park and walk through the mellow grass and creamy skies, and he is six-foot-one and although he keeps his hands in his pockets, his laugh is skyblue and open and easy, and you like the way he listens when you talk, and you promise yourself that you will be kinder this time.
       First, you become galaxies. When you kneel on your bed and kiss him hard, reaching the height of your face to his, you can feel the both of you expanding and swirling until you shatter through the stratosphere and create worlds of your own. When he moves his mouth down in increments, in colors, in moments of time, you gasp, and the room around you radiates flecks of diamond and gold.
       You didn’t know love could feel like this.
       First, you begin to cool, the burning nights melting into comfortable mornings. You find you love the way he scrambles eggs, soft and shy yellow with cracked pepper on top, black like specks of night sky he has captured just for you. And you discover that curling against him and listening to him read out loud, hearing the rumble of words in the hollow of his chest while he spins colors and stories into the air, would be enough to make you happy for an eternity: for days and weeks and months until something goes wrong.
       When you start to lash out in crimson tones you back away, quickly, and the tears in your voice cool your words into obsidian. He kisses you, carefully, and you lose yourself in the bloodred of his mouth and promise yourself that you can still save this one.
       When you raise your voice again you can hear it in your ears, but the sharp sounds don’t stop, like the obsidian has splintered into a thousand pieces, and when he shoves his hands in his pockets you know you have gone too far and even when you start to shape the words to apologize, you know the cuts that you have made in his skin are already bleeding, and you can do nothing to stop it.
       First, you are cold. You stop eating his scrambled eggs and he stops listening when you talk and the cuts you made in his skin scar over into frost but don’t heal. More and more often when you are home at nights without him, you wrap your arms around your bare waist and let the shower run over you and the drops of water feel like sparks, so hot they become cold again. You think that if you look, you might find ice burns all across your body, like scarlet bruises from missing him too hard.
       You didn’t know hurt could feel like this.
       First, you expand. You fall apart from each other for days and weeks and months, and you continue to move away from him, tracing bleeding footsteps farther and farther and sometimes when you walk beneath the fire gray sky, you promise yourself that one day, you’ll find someone to make you happy again. When you see a photo of him, a year later, he is kissing another woman, and he is glowing and yellow and glad, and you swipe past the photo and when you sit in the dark, two tears carve deep purple tracks down your face.
       You are long and languid, and the dull red of your eyes swallows the energy of every room you are in.


J. Unruh is a Minnesota girl living in the Windy City and a current MFA student at Columbia College Chicago, where she focuses on writing plot-heavy fiction. She is overfond of strong cups of tea, lakes and oceans, and skies brimming over with stars.