Just Muscle

By the time the door falls off the hinges at 9:30 PM, I’m almost 11 hours past becoming frustrated. It’s a day where I’ve told deliberate lies to someone important, because it’s what they want more than the truth, and I am good at giving people what they want, even if it is not what I need.

Because the day has been long, instead of fixing the door I leave it there, propped against the wall, spend the evening on the patio with someone else for company. We watch the dark night sky and the stars and the small toads catching insects on the steps, and he tells me about the day when, out walking with his daughter, he saw all the tiny perhaps just born ones crossing the road, their small bodies barely-there things. And when he kisses me, his lips are the wrong ones, and I know this before it happens, think then that maybe I just don’t care, because the heart is a thing I want to make just muscle, instead of a thing as hard to close as it had been to open, and so I use those of my arms to hold him to me.

On the patio the toads sit still for so long they become very nearly stones amongst the other stones, so still that it is nearly an hour before I even notice the second one. It is patient there on the concrete, understands the importance of timing, when to wait, and when to leap, the muscles of its body straining forward until that small flying thing, having chosen this moment to briefly rest on the house’s siding, disappears.

When, while watching this, he tells me the story of the toads and I imagine that carpeting of small bodies on a roadway, I will think only of their tiny hearts beating so rapidly, like how mine had felt against his chest, the way their bodies always knew what to do. How there had been no question in them.

His lips are the wrong ones and I know that when I kiss him, but it is still an easier mistake to make than that other one. Because with him my heart is just muscle, not a thing as hard to close as it had been to open. And, if just muscle, like the ones in the hands holding him to me, see how easily I could open them, just let him go.

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