• Mathura Hawley


“Would it be okay if I kiss you?” he asks, and I nod yes and he leans in. We feel warm and soft and in synch and I can feel his hand tightening around mine. "

I know it is 5:30 a.m. but I cannot get up. I have rolled out of bed at 5:30 for most of the last eight years but it is not the last eight years anymore. Luke is next to me, and I put my hand on him and he responds with a sigh. There is no one else in the bed, and I am still sad about M. I had strong feelings for him, the first since the tornado that tore through my life last year and I have not wanted to touch anyone during this past month, still missing him. I feel …less.. today than I should, my confidence down from my new isolation and broken habits. The mind decompressing from years of work moves at its own pace and skids back and forth across a slippery road of loss, relief and renewal. I have a last minute interview this morning and I have no focus when I enter the lobby except a resolve to be my most honest self. I have tried to make a bonfire of determination out of any fear and confusion I feel about my unemployment, and this morning I feel so raw that I decide I will go with it. We meet, talk, and connect. I tell the truth about what has worked and has not worked from my years of experience, and she shares her version. I do not say one thing that I do not believe. We laugh a lot, and she hugs me goodbye. I walk out through the revolving doors, stop, and breathe. I put on my headphones and choose Erotica by Madonna because I think it is the only honest record she ever made. The sound always goes deep for me and I feel it today, the words and music so much of who I am but rarely show to others. I walk through the East Village, tainted for me by the memory of Om, but not today. I buy coffee and sit in the park and a young, handsome man walks by and smiles from ear to ear, his eyes lighting up. I take off my headphones. “Wow,” he says, looking me up and down, and I blush, fresh from the Madonna lyrics. “I’m Chris,” he says, and I offer him a seat next to me. “I’m Mathura,” I return. His eyes are beautiful pools of brown and hazel and present with emotion. We talk and never move our eyes from each other, until I reach over and take his hand and hold it, with no hesitation. He sighs. “Would it be okay if I kiss you?” he asks, and I nod yes and he leans in. We feel warm and soft and in synch and I can feel his hand tightening around mine. He tells me I smell good but we do not talk much and it feels comfortable to just look at each other quietly. “Thank you for this,” I say. “Thank you for seeing me,” he says. “Especially today,” I add, and we hug. And he smiles. And he stands up and looks down at me. “I will remember this,” he says softly, and walks away, turning around once to smile one more time. “Me too,” I say to myself, putting the headphones back on.

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