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We met in a pub. I spotted her from across the room and had the usual ‘is she or isn’t she?’ conversation in my head. She was a little pink-haired bob in a sea of blondes and brunettes, instantly fascinating by virtue of a vibrant dye job. Over the course of the night, our eyes locked a few times through the crowd so, when they called last drinks, I decided to go for it.

What the hell, right?

On our first date, the following Thursday, she was so nervous. Five minutes in, she blurted out that she’d never been with a girl… not that way. Her cheeks glowed red and she couldn’t look at me. Her innocence made me smile although part of me felt predatory. She was so young and vulnerable.

The things I could do.

Our first kiss tasted like strawberries; her Chapstick, as it turned out. Her lips were soft and tentative and her neck smelt sugary and somehow innocent. I remember thinking ‘she’s such a girly girl’. Not that there was anything wrong with that. I liked it.

I liked the way she got shy after we kissed. She actually blushed and looked away, which I found endearing, at the time. I liked the way she tucked her short, pale pink hair behind her ears and tilted her head when asked a question. As if she wanted to make sure she gave just the right answer. Even if it was something simple like ‘do you want Indian for dinner?’ or ‘should we go to the pub?’

Later, after we’d moved in together, I’d watch her soaking in the tub, applying her face mask, scrubbing and shaving her legs. Her hair, now long and mermaid blue, would float in the tub around her. Afterwards, she’d lather on her moisturiser. She always smelt so good. Those first few months, bath time meant lying in wait for her to finish her routine and then tumbling her straight into bed, all steamy and moisturiser-smooth.

“You don’t have to go to so much trouble just for me,” I’d say.

“But I want to,” she’d reply, looking up at me with those wide, trusting eyes. She made me feel invincible, like I was this god-like creature to this innocent soul, who I loved and wanted to care for. Her sweet, girlishness had entranced me.

But, like all things, it eventually wore thin. Her bashful little girl-ness became a hurdle, a frustration. Something that seemed more of an affectation than a real personality trait. Bath time was an indulgence. She was too hot and sticky when she emerged from the bath. I no longer wanted to tumble this hot, sticky person into our bed. She should dry off properly on the couch first before coming to bed. Her smell was cloying. It lingered long after she’d left the room, the house, sticking to my clothes and skin. Marking me like an animal’s scent, like I was someone’s property.

“Could you not just smell like a normal person? Why do you have to use flavoured Chapstick? You’re like a caricature of a woman. You don’t need to force it so much.”

There were, of course, tears. But that’s how it always is. The things you love about someone are eventually the things that drive you away.

I went back to the pub. Caught someone else’s eye. Is she or isn’t she?

Image credit: The Breakup App | Time

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