Excerpts

Lightly edited for, you know...the internet

(Some names replaced with pronouns to avoid spoilers)

She awoke to what she had believed she would never see again: a man sleeping in her bed. And Thomas wasn’t just any man. He was a man who accidentally observed her disfigured face and later kissed her under a streetlight. Who held her hand running through the rain. Who ravaged her on her dining room table, and wept at the sight of her face, not from horror but adoration. A man who gripped her doughy limbs, while fingering her fleshy creases and hungering for what lay beneath. A man who untethered her from all the pain and rejection that had piled up like trash on the curb of her mind. A man who didn’t vanish in the night.

He was also a man who was lost, and not just in a city he didn’t know. A man who came in a desperate search of his lover, only to find another, perhaps too quickly.

A man who, if his words from the night before were true, wasn’t in a hurry to find the other lover. A man who didn’t know his other lover didn’t actually exist, at least not the way he thought she did.

These fantasies, to whom did they belong? She created them of course, but didn’t he accept them, and add to them? Did that make them as much his as hers? Until last night, she only acted out her part of the fantasy on paper, whereas he actually acted them out on human flesh and on her command… But she held all the power of the fantasy, being the only one who knew what it was.

The rest of the day felt different than those prior. Thomas insisted they go for a walk, and rebuffed her attempts to keep him inside—the apartment and her. Reluctantly, she conceded, feeling time running out. They had left through the rear door and traversed side streets and nearly reached the Gare Saint-Lazare Metro station when, in a crowd, she came to an abrupt halt. 

She stood still with her face frozen in terror. Thomas, needing half a minute to realize she’d fallen behind, turned and ran toward her. None of his words loosened her fear’s grip. During the past two days she’d forgotten she had ever worn a scarf at all, but now realized she had gone out in public without it.