Being Known

Being Known

A story for the ones who got away


By Jessica McClendon


This morning when we woke up-

I realized there was nothing else to say.

The loving kiss he plants lightly on my forehead—the coquettish caress of my fingers across his chest as I brush past—it all happens innately.

His bulk is so mundane to me at this point (the broad slope of his strong shoulders, the narrow hips, the perfectly solid ass leading to sturdy legs). I don’t even register his shirtless, muscled torso moving noisily between the stovetop and the fridge.

The cadence of my voice so mastered he doesn’t need to listen to know what I am saying.

I am known.

He is known.

Or is this just memorization?

Whatever it is it feels ambiguous—vague—but somehow, I know that life intentionally led us here.

We haven’t always been this way.

One very cold night some October long ago, we found each other on a street corner. An uneven sidewalk was our introductory third party.

I quite literally fell into his arms and, perhaps, “in love” the moment I saw his face.

It was as if we had been looking for each other for a long time—immediately we smiled in relieved recognition.

I didn’t tell him he was my first.

I was 24.

But as I lay with the sweaty sheets crumpled between my thighs and his contented breath humming in my ear—I concluded that he was what I was born to do.

It felt like he had always been my best friend.

He said he was meant to call me “My Love” before the world was.

I didn’t want to be “that girl,” but a few weeks later when the flesh of his back was rising like dough between my fingers and his trembling limbs-taught and pressed against mine—caged me in, I whispered

“I love you”

“I know”

The time passed in the fervent arrogance of young love. Every moment was a testament to the ease of intimacy when the soul has at last found its counterpart.

Today marks six years since I tripped on the sidewalk and this morning our conversation ended. Or maybe it ended months ago?

Today may just be the first day I am aware of the silence.

14 days, 9 hours, and 7 minutes from this moment, I  will risk it all to save what feels like fading passion, not even acknowledging

this banal affair may have {never?} been love at all.

He will come up the metal steps. I will meet him at the door with a melancholy smile and tell him him that maybe, just maybe, we have lost each other. That maybe for the sake of our love we should spend some time apart to rediscover who we are.

(It will sound so sensible and time-stamped with innovation.)

He will thrust his hands deep into his pockets and hang his head a bit and like a perfect gentleman he will say:

“Whatever you need, My Love”

And this is what I will think we need.

I will hug him goodbye, carelessly forgetting to kiss that face almost more familiar to me than my own. As he walks down the stairs and into the street, I won’t even bother to watch him from the door because my teapot will be screaming on the stove stop and I am more invested in ensuring it doesn’t boil over.

But for now, I am pleasantly docile, because on this morning with the soft white light of 7:30 a.m. streaming through the window and the smell of bacon and eggs titillating my nose and the unobtrusive presence of the only man I have ever loved filling my heart with what I will come to remember as happiness.

How could I have known I would never see him again?