The music drills into your ears. You feel it in your bones. Lady Gaga is screaming. You hate the sound as much as the smell of cigarettes and beer leeching into the air. Male, female, the bodies coil around you, warm muscles twisting in the dance. Hands without names run over your skin.

You need the touch of another more than food and water. The days of youth are slipping by, lost to betrayal and pain. Loneliness seeps in like a vapor.

Maybe if you bled they might see you. Maybe if you screamed they might hear you. Would they feel the vibrations of your pain against their skin? The emptiness is growing. You won’t reach out. You won’t take the very thing for which your soul is screaming.

You dance. Hands are on your ass, your chest, your hips. “Care to take this somewhere else?”  a voice whispers.

You shake your head. You don’t want to give the emptiness space to grow; you don’t want to pretend to have it filled. You’re here, in this throbbing mass to stay alive. One more nameless night, one more hit of something that isn’t and it’s over. It will be your end.

The hand on yours is warm.

“Yes,” you whisper. There are hands on your waist, a breath in your ear. The air outside is cold against your sweat soaked skin.

There’s an elevator, then an apartment door. Clothes are strewn across the floor. Biology takes it course. You still haven’t looked at this stranger whose sweat is burning against your skin.

The emptiness is coming back. The fluid on your thigh has cooled.

You reached down to find your jeans.

“Where are you going?” says the stranger.

“Home,” you answer. But you can’t remember where that is.

“Stay,” the stranger says.

“Don’t say that,” you say.


The bed dips and there is warmth behind your back.

“It’s stupid,” you whisper.

“Stay,” the stranger whispers.

“I can’t do this,” you snap. You shake out your jeans.

“Do what?” the stranger says.

“Can’t do this again.”

Hands stroke your shoulders.


“You’re killing me.” Don’t say it again.

“Why?” the stranger asks.

“People never fucking mean it!” The jeans are on. You have to run.

“What are you afraid of” the stranger whispers.

“Why would I tell you, damn it!” you hiss. Your shirt is on the back of the chair. You reach for it.


Arms wrap around you. They draw you close.


“Fuck you!”

“Already did. Stay.”

“What do you want?” you ask.

“To not be alone,” the stranger says.

“Not enough,” you whisper.

“Why not?”

“Not enough pieces left.”

“What do you mean?” the stranger’s breath ghosts over your ear.

“Fuck this!” you snarl.

“I’d like to do more than that,” the stranger says. “Fucking gets old.”

You’re crying, your knees buckling. Your body is cradled in the arms of a stranger.

“I want to go home,” you cry.

“Where’s home?” the stranger says. You’re in the stranger’s lap. There’s warmth and breath and the beat of a living body.

“I don’t know,” you whisper.

“Make one with me,” the stranger says.

“Can’t,” you hiccup. “Not enough pieces.”

“Make the pieces.”

“Don’t know you,” you cry.

“I know enough,” the stranger whispers, “Promise me; we’ll make a home.”

“Nothing good ever comes out of a one night stand,” you whisper.

“It’s not a one night stand if you stay,” the stranger whispers.

“I can’t do this,” you say. “I can’t take it if another one leaves. Not enough pieces.” Can’t be alone, not again. 

“Then swear to me, you won’t leave. I won’t.”

“How do you know you love me?”

“How do you know that you love me?” the stranger whispers, “It’s better than being alone.”

“What if I don’t make you happy?”

“It’s my job to make me happy,” the stranger whispers into your ear. “It’s your job to stay.”

“How can I believe you?” you whisper.

“Do you have another chance?” the stranger whispers back. “How much longer will you last? How many more nights?”

“No more nights,” you whisper. “No more nights. Not enough pieces.”

“Stay,” the stranger whispers one last time.

“Can’t,” you whisper. “Can’t trust you.”

“Want to?” the stranger whispers.

“Yes,” you answer.

“Then jump off the bridge, like you were going to. Give me your life.”

You go still. You don’t even breathe. It’s simple. There’s nothing left. Why not give your life to someone who wants it.

“Will you hurt me?”

“You’ll be mine,” the stranger says softly. Hands run down your still naked skin.

“Don’t let go,” you whisper. There won’t be anything left.

“I got you,” the stranger says.

Your body seems falls apart, a band stretched too long in the blazing sun.

“What do you want from me?” you whisper.

“I want you. I want to hear your breathing at night. I want to watch you eat breakfast in the morning. I want to hear about your horrible boss. I want to see your laundry mixing in the dryer with mine. I want to know when I turn around, you’ll be there. When I roll over at night, I want to feel your heat in the sheets. I want you to give a damn about my life, about whether or not there’s a smile on my face, but I want you to understand you’re the not only thing in the world that can give or take my joy, only that you can be my comfort.”

“You don’t know me,” you say.

“I know enough,” the stranger says.

“Don’t hurt me,” you say.

“You’re mine,” the stranger says.

You turn then; you crawl like a child into the stranger’s arms.

“You’re warm,” you whisper.

Laughter fills the room, rumbling in the chest against you ear.

“So are you.”

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