"there's a trick to it, you know," julian teased, tilting his head and puffing out three smoke rings in rapid succession. i pouted and inhaled again, but my rings were horribly disfigured. i'd dealt with corpses run over by trains that looked lovelier than these.
"show~me!" i pleaded, wiggling in julian's lap. the afternoon sun poured down through the clouds and dyed the environment persimmon. it was uncharacteristically warm, and while neither of us enjoyed the heat, it was a welcome change to be able to sit on the roof without getting soaked to the bone.
"no~o," he sang. i very nearly punched him, but the last time i did it left an unsightly bruise. i both adored and loathed julian being so thin. he was almost skeletal, which was very pleasing aesthetically for me, but if you so much as poked him hard enough he would bruise -- and i really did not like seeing him bruised on the outside when he was already so bruised inside.
"just be quiet." he angled my head back, and as he pressed his lips to mine he expelled his smoke into my lungs. the first time he did that to me i choked so badly he thought i was going to die. it was completely natural now, like pulling the covers further up your shoulders on a cold night.
i wondered how such an action could be so romantic and so entirely meaningless at the same time.
"that doesn't help me," i sniffed, his second-hand smoke filtering through my lips.
"but you like that, don't you?"
"yes," i confirmed, leaning my head against his chest. i could feel his ribs against my scalp and the slow, hollow beating of his heart. sometimes, i couldn't hear it at all, but only when he was truly happy. it disconcerted me but i didn't mind because it felt a little like home.
the sun sat on the horizon, much the same as i sat now, a pile of bones wrapped lazily in skin, letting the world go as fast as it needed, while i languidly burned as slowly as i wanted.
everpresent at the back of my mind was the fear that someday, either me or the sun would eventually burn so slowly that we'd die out. it was a competition that neither one of us really wanted to participate in. i felt like a puppet, and wondered if the sun ever felt like one too.
as if to prove me wrong, to prove that it did in fact want to win, the sun swung its feet over the gutter and slipped down to the ground, leaving nothing but a shadow that quietly but firmly told me, 'i will not lose.'
my back was cold and julian was no longer underneath me, gone with the light.
he was merely the thud of footsteps on concrete, the click of a key in a lock, the sound of a closing door.
he could be happy, and i would never know. like the sun, he cared not for what other people thought.
he just sat and watched and burned so brightly that no one could ever possibly doubt his lilting smile or hope to see what lay behind it.
i blew my disfigured smoke rings, and in the hollow, empty darkness, they tasted like cinnamon.