I think I love her. I really do. I love her speckled face, freckles like crumbs across the bridge of her nose, falling down her cheeks to the corners of her lips. I love the way she sees. The way she looks at things, not as things but as…oh I don’t know. It’s like the pot of daffodils she keeps on the glass table next to her chair on the balcony. She told me it looks like a thinking angel. I’m not sure what she means, but I love it all the same. I love how I have to focus whenever I’m around her, how I can’t just zone off and let my thoughts wander away. She grounds me, and I think that’s funny considering how high up we live, floating aimlessly in our little house.
The sun’s setting now and I can see other houses in the distance, afloat between dark grey clouds and drifting between the high rises. They look like hummingbirds to me, stable bodies and wings aflutter, so fast you can hardly see them. Their giant balloons quiver and shake in the forthcoming storm, lost within the wet mist, droplets flowing down their skins like sweat. I want to reach out and touch them, but they’re too far away, and I’m scared of falling.
We’re on the balcony, me in my wide plastic armchair and her in her red twine one. Her legs are crossed and her head is turned towards the rising night. I can see the crystals hanging from her ears, and I love the way they glimmer.
I think about telling her, but thunder strikes sudden and cuts me off before I can start. I flinch and the daffodils quiver.
“Storm’s coming,” she says, and looks at me. The rain is starting to patter her face a bit, blending in with her freckles and mixing them together like wet paint.
I nod, and we both turn to look at a strong strike of lightning connect with the top of a skyscraper in the distance, lighting up the night sky for a split second.
There’s music I can hear, drone-like and ambient, forgotten, like the kind of sound you’d expect to hear from the blue guitarist in that Picasso painting, but I’m not sure if she can hear it too. Her face looks thoughtful. She probably can.
I think about telling her right then.
I don’t want to never tell her.
“Mom says hi,” I say instead, and she smiles. A house drifts past us. The windows are lit with yellow light. I guess that was where the music was coming from.
“I miss her,” she remarks. “How’s she doing?”
I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t spoken to my mom in almost a year. “She’s good. Tired. Dad still gets on her nerves but, they manage. She does.”
There’s a moment of silence before she turns to me and says “I brought tiramisu. From that place you like.”
We watch another house float by. I wish I was braver.
But I can’t stop thinking. I think about myself, I think of pretty things, glowing things, happy things. I think I love her. I should tell her, but I don’t.
She reaches over and hands me a plate. It’s a small plate, like a coffee plate, but there’s a slice of tiramisu on it, beige coloured, brown and white and cream, and drooping over the edges like a wet sponge. I stick my fork in and taste it, and it tastes like how a butterfly feels on the skin. It’s soft and tingly, and I almost laugh because I see her face and I can tell she’s thinking the same thing.
“Butterflies,” I say, my mouth full of the stuff. She laughs and spits it back out into the plate, covering her mouth with a slender hand.
Another house passes by. This time there’s people on the balcony, and I can see their figures as it approaches through the mist. I don’t like when there’s other people out, but I don’t say anything. They get closer and we can see them clearer. They’re naked. Lying on the ground, entwined within each other, wet skin touching wet skin, mouths agape and eyes wide with ecstasy. I feel my face heat up and I look away, but she doesn’t. She watches them thoughtfully, looking at them the same way she looks at everything else. She smiles as their house drifts away, and then she says, “we should do that,” and I feel my stomach twist as the words leave her lips. She looks at me with those big eyes, the kind that could say a million different things in a million different ways, but I couldn’t make out a single one.
“I don’t know.” I shrug and look away, and she does too. Her twine chair screeches on the concrete balcony as she gets up, her arm brushing past the daffodils.
“They need water,” she says in explanation, and then steps over the sliding glass door and into the house, her footsteps like knocks on the wooden floor. Her scent lingers long after she’s gone, and I love the smell.
I glance back out the balcony as the rain grows harder. I can feel the house shaking beneath my feet, rattling in the winds. Other houses are rising above the clouds to avoid the storm, and all I can see now are the bottoms of them, the pipes and the framework—skeletons and organs. I should follow.
I think I should tell her.
I don’t want to never tell her.
I open my lips and whisper, “I think I love…”
Faris Salhi is a writer living in Calgary, Alberta and hailing from Syria. He is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Calgary, as well as a career in writing and storytelling.