Love sounds coarse in his mouth. It twists his tongue awkwardly as if it were a foreign language.
I can see the furrowed brow of his heart peering out through his ribcage as it studies my gestures and the inflection of my voice and tries to decipher their meaning.
It’s like spending your entire life reading a word silently in your head, having never heard it spoken out loud until one day someone says it. It sounds strange. It doesn’t sound at all the way you thought it was supposed to and yet you know that that is it. And it changes you forever. You will never read that word in the same way again because now you know.
He’s like those kids in high school who studied Latin. They could read and write fluently in the target language, but they never actually had a conversation in it. I mean, who speaks conversational Latin? No one.
Love is not Latin.
Love is a language I can speak. I have had practice. I am well rehearsed.
But he is still learning.
Sometimes his terms of endearment sound more like commands than caresses.
Sometimes his responses are so abrupt and lacking in sweetness that I begin to doubt his sincerity. I wait though for his voice to warm up and soften, for the edges of his words to curl up around me. Sometimes I am not very good at waiting. Sometimes his coarseness reminds me of my own and I become cold and hard and confused. I worry that my fluency is fake, that I nailed the accent but missed the point.
Sometimes I wonder if the book I am reading is actually in French and all this time I have been reading it in Spanish thinking I understood, but as it turns out I know nothing. I do not speak French.
Or maybe it is not language that is the problem. Maybe we are reading books that tell different stories, and I never noticed until now. And now… with our dry mouths and sandpaper tongues we must somehow smooth the edges of the two competing stories into one: one of friendship.