He met her on the commuter platform one humid morning in July, standing there with her pinched face, a perpetual scowl, which fascinated him because it was set above a youthful body. In bed weeks later, he decided that flawless was a better word. Her skin was uninterrupted by blemish, her navel was shallow and smooth, as of someone had gently pressed their thumb into her. At first she moved almost mechanically, but then she was all certainty and power, whispering so quickly he couldn't understand her, biting so fiercely he tried to pull away but couldn't, she grasped him with too much strength.
It was morning by then and the sun was coming up a hazy yellow that fluttered through the curtains. It painted her body with light and heat, catching her face, reflecting off the perspiration on her forehead, creeping beneath her eyelids so they seemed to flicker from within.
He was an insurance underwriter, divorced and solitary, one of those men who liked to wake up alone. He was expert at projecting a distant hurt that made women sad enough to leave him in peace. She was different, though, and none of his melancholy gratitude moved her to put on her clothes. She'd said she could listen to him talk all night, though she spoke with little expression, so he couldn't tell if she meant to be challenging or kind. She asked him questions about his life, propped herself on an elbow as she listened as she ran her fingers over his chest, back and forth, up and down, back and forth.
"You've had such an interesting existence," she said casually. Something like a chill passed through him because her words could only be a taunt. "I said something wrong?" she asked.
He didn't know how to respond but his mouth opened before he could think things through and he said, "Don't make fun of me." In response, she sat up, swung her leg over his chest, pinning one arm at his side. "I'm not," she told him. "Your life's just so different."
She pressed her hands against his breast bone and for a moment he thought she was trying to calm him. He felt the warmth of her palms on his heart, then a tingle, and then it was as if she'd reached inside of him and pulled. His head flared. All the sensation in his limbs flooded toward his chest.
His breath went flat. Everything that had ever happened to him sank past his eyes and into his lungs and up through his skin. He was certain that he'd been older once, then older still, and there was a stranger on top of him, a woman with a pinched face, with her eyes closed and flickering harsh light.
She pressed harder into his chest, harder and harder until he heard his bones begin to snap, but by then his body was empty and there was nothing left to feel.
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She pressed her hands against his breast bone and for a moment he thought she was trying to calm him. He felt the warmth of her palms, then a tingle, and then it was as if she'd reached inside of him and pulled...