“Why do you say that?”

I leaned across the table a little as he took one of my hands and studied it, running his thumb across my fingers absentmindedly. “I used to bite my fingernails”. He smiled and rolled his eyes, pausing to take a sip of his coffee. “My lips too, when I was nervous.” He laughed then, an unexpected expelling of breath which lit up his eyes and almost seemed to catch him off guard. “When I drank red wine it took days for the stains to fade. It would get in to the cuts and my lips would be blotched dark red for so long that it almost became a normality”.

I looked at him then, really studied him for a moment. He was smiling still, the corners of his mouth turned up slightly, but he had let go of my hand and was picking at the corner of the table. Light filtered through the dirty window and brushed his eyelashes, patterns spilling across his skin and through his hair.

“I can’t fall for you. I just… it’s like when you go on a trip, right? And you don’t want to do what everyone else is doing so you just slip away from the group and go off on your own, and you discover all of these amazing things, learn everything you can about this strange place, but it’s still dangerous, and mysterious, and even though you know it would never intentionally hurt you because how could it? It’s a city, a place, it thrives with life and has seen so much emotion, so much love, and heartbreak, and everything in between that it just slips by. It doesn’t have to see how people are affected by all of these pointless actions. This doesn’t make sense, I don’t think, won’t really register, but what I’m trying to say is that you make me feel like those days, where you’re on your own in a place that you don’t know, don’t have experience of, but you’re so content and happy to just be encased in this comfortable presence that you lose yourself, and you don’t realise until it’s too late to change anything, until you’re deep in those winding streets and you can’t find your way back. It scares the hell out of me, you see, because I honestly think I’m already lost”.