Fisheye Lens

The room is cold, but burning at the edges. The shaking of my hands isn't from the drop in temperature, nor from the lack of warmth within my veins. It all feels like too much; the streetlights outside the window, your breathless laugh, my nervous shuffling, the unnecessary furniture; the cars, the walking, the shouting. If you would just speak first, it would all be okay.

The heavy expectation hanging between the two of us makes me jittery, scared even. When I look up, the hand you lifted to reach out for my own, which are settled on the table between us, drops. The protest on the tip on my tongue dies as I look at your face, an expression I can't name flickering across it before those golden eyes focus on me. It is never easy to look away once your gaze captures mine, so I am stuck staring and trying to pretend that my nerves aren't scattering about everywhere they shouldn't be. You are the face I cared for so long, the one I tried to claw at. Sitting here with you is more like a burden than anything. It feels like the walls are closing in on the already small room; the one we've been sitting in for hours now.

There is nothing left but you in my vision, and I don't think there is enough air to fill my lungs.

The undeniable need to actually sit here is so strong I have to mentally remind myself to stay seated and not leap across the table. Quite dimly, I am aware of the consequences it would have; knowing full well that if I did reach out for you, I would tear at every fibre of your being, letting the bottled anger seep through the screams that were sure to follow. I can't even explain it to myself, but I just know that is how things would transpire. Of course, I know the boundaries between us, but somehow they are distant and meaningless when I look at you sitting right here with me as though nothing has ever happened—and has it, really?

My heart rate spikes, picking up a rhythm that seems to echo within my mind, a dull kind of thump humming beneath my pulse that feels so utterly alien, and absolutely terrifying. I swallow. Feeling your stare go through my skull makes me shiver. The ongoing panic within my abdomen rises as well, and no soothing thoughts can stop it from doing so. I could never touch you enough, kiss you enough or steal too many glances to sate the bright fire that always blazes between us. It is like no distance can stop the ravenous desire I feel for you.

But there is a certain kind of pressure that continues to build, which shouldn't be here in the first place. A quick shot of whiskey could dissolve the control you have over your silence, and the nervous wreck I am turning out to be. The alcoholic burn would feel nice, the buzz would be a welcomed friend and I don't think I would even feel ashamed to be grabbing for the bottle again after so many years, but there is nothing here. Then, I can no longer win the game of patience and break the silence as I ask, "You are here for a reason, am I correct?"

The words fell quietly, as though I accused you of something you shouldn't be doing. I can't help the slight shake within my voice, either. A golden gaze of concern is all I get for an answer; a bright shine within the ever darkening of my mind. The scrutiny that also fights its way through your eyes catches my breath, tightens the hold around my heart, but there is a certain kind of steady confirmation I can cling to when you look at me like that. It feels good and right and makes me feel absolutely needed, or wanted.

One of your hands stretches across the table again, as though you mean to grasp my own, and the thought of your touch floods me with more panic. My fingers curl into fists without hesitation, which makes you halt. I am not sure I myself understand the reaction; the entire situation is confusing me, to be honest. I let out a shaky breath, forcing a smile that does nothing at all. Meaningless sentences scramble through my mind while I try to find the right thing to say because your silence is starting to hurt. But then you part the lips I have sought to feel, and your voice, which used to be firm and warm, is a low one fraught with tension as you say, "I will be leaving within the next hour."

You forgot a word in between the others, I think, but don't mention when I mutter, "Don't try to soften the blow, now." It's a lie, really, because I wish you could soften it, but, again, I don't say that because it is too personal, too close to what I really feel. You can't know all of that because it would be a betrayal to everything we did, and to whom we both really are. Instead, I whisper, "Don't bullshit me, I know you better."

"Well," you snap, finally showing some sort of emotion other than the calm state of mind you pretend to be, but the reaction is one that doesn't last and vanishes as you continue, "why don't you explain it to me, then? Because I don't think I know what you want."

I wish you could explain it to me: the frustration, the anger and hatred and how much I want you dead; how much I miss you, and love you and need you—I grit my teeth. Why don't you tell me why I can feel your damn heartbeat from across the table? Why I feel your warmth? My jaw hurts while I continue to drink in the silence. I feel sick thinking of it all, of you and me and us. I focus on the window behind you, knowing that even if I try to ignore your eyes it won't help.

"Would you like to know something?" you say, efficiently changing the topic and snapping my attention back towards you.

"What?" I growl, glaring and still confused about you being here at all. Should you be—

"Actually, have you ever talked to someone who killed another human being?"

I pause the response that first gathers at the forefront of my thoughts, and simply furrow my brows. You slouch in your seat, idly watching my reaction. I know you are thinking, imagining, the sharp planes of my muscles and the smooth skin you traced all too often. The way your eyes glaze over for just a fraction of a second, recalling things I will never know without you telling me, manages to make me shiver. There are shadows of emotions that play across your face, obscuring your real intention. The thought brings memories of my own hand slipping through your hair, resting at the back of your neck and just thinking of it all makes my palm burn and tingle. "Excuse me?" I finally mutter once my mind settles.

You let out another one of those breathless laughs, flashing me with a smile. "People murder out of love most of the time. It really isn't hatred all that often," you say as though it is obvious and I should have known. "They kill because they love."

A nervous tremor itches and curls restlessly in the pit of my stomach, weighing it down. "What does that have to do with you being here today?" Why the fuck are you here, anyway? Even while the confusion sweeps through me, capturing me within a glamour I can barely see through, I can't stop watching the half-smile now turning into a grin. The question burns deep, triggering some knowledge buried within that I still can't grasp. "I asked why you were here."

"No, you asked whether I was here for a reason," you state.

I nod, unable to say anything because although your tone of voice is friendly, I can see the quivering balance of wild, unanticipated eagerness that you are trying to restrain. The carefully caged emotions waver beyond my reach. For one spiteful second, I want to reach out and grab you by your throat just to disrupt your moment of control, but instead I pull my hands completely out of your reach and lean back. A deep heaviness pools down my spine, burning and settling around my muscles with such fierceness that I have to stop myself from hissing.

"But you can easily convince someone—" you decide to continue as though we didn't just drop that conversation— "talking someone into murder is easy when you know them." You fix me with a stare that I recognise at once; it is a mixture of a challenge and uncompromising power—one that I used to admire, and fear when it was thrown my way. The tension in my body rises at the same time that my heart slows. "I know you," you say so quietly that I barely catch it, but it still manages to ring through the barriers of my existence. If the room felt cold before, it is now freezing without a doubt.

I look away from your face, down to the hands resting on the table where mine had been not too long ago. There are cuts on your fingers, nails trimmed neatly but blood clinging underneath. You flex them for me, I know that is the only reason. What is this? I look into your eyes again, the golden haze that makes sunshine look like crap in comparison. I can never explain how intensely aware I have always been of your presence, nor how the strange impulse to reach out and—I look out of the window again, opting on the unscathed kind of view.

"I don't get it," I mumble in the end. My heart thumps once, hard, and the echo burns its way through my veins. The beating resonates in waves of distress, completely out of sync. I draw a long shuddering breath. "What is your reason for being here?" I ask because it is important.

You let out a frustrated whine, and at the sound, I look up, blinking in confusion that quickly morphs into alarm when I see the anger within your stare. A chill runs down my spine, curls around my bones and sucks away any courageous lies that would try to sneak from my tongue.

No one ever provoked responses of raw emotions that you manage to do from me. The way you make my facade fall to its knees with just a sweep of your tongue across those full lips, or how a single gaze of yours sends my mind scrambling for things to do is a fracture in the world itself and shouldn't be allowed to exist. The shaking of my hands grows instantaneously. I have never felt so attuned to anyone, and so utterly afraid at the same time.

"Think about it. Why would I be here?" Why would you, indeed? How would I know when I am wondering the same thing. "You are rather daft at times, have you ever noticed that?" You lean forwards, halfway across the table to reach for me again, letting your fingers hover near my face. "How much can a heart endure when the love is too strong?" My chair creaks and my back aches when I lean back. My heart is scrambling to get away, but my gaze is still focused on the blood underneath your nails. "It takes a certain kind of sacrifice to keep what is yours, forever."

"You give pieces of yourself away to keep love alive," I answer, startling myself.

"Now that's it!"

You slam your hands on the table. The wood shakes beneath the surge of power, and your face is so close to mine that while your breath ghosts across my skin, I can smell the foul aroma leaking from your tongue. It makes a certain kind of blame gnaw at my insides, and claw its way through my heart. I stop breathing, only able to stare for the moment.

Your words are like a cold wash of water for my mind, shocking me back to the reality at hand because you shouldn't be here. I stare at your hands, my eyes wide and my mouth working soundlessly as I try to make sense of it. My mind tries reaching for any kind of explanation, but nothing comes and I am not sure I could even explain it in any normal sense for that matter. it doesn't seem like something—I force myself to sit still when you lean even closer.

"Look at that, you are getting ever closer," you whisper, your tone cold and sharp.

I blink several times before scrubbing my face with both of my hands, all too tired from sitting. Then, gathering my courage, I look back up into your eyes. "You can't be here," I say breathlessly, my voice shaking. It is a good thing to say, I know this because there's a spark in your eyes that tells me it is. Still, it feels all too wrong coming from me. The words are like a foul egg on my tongue, a piece of rotten fish in my throat. Letting my own face inch towards yours, I am distantly aware of that I shouldn't do so. "Why are you here?" I whisper.

Then it all cracks—the moment between us breaks all too suddenly, and so does my mind as it whirls in circles and makes me sick. The control you had vanishes from your features and your face distorts into a grimace I have never seen before. You grind your teeth, you bite your lip; you squeeze your eyes shut, you take a deep, shaky breath. "I don't know," you then say, voice weak and trembling. "I don't know." There is a certain kind of desperation between the words and your tone, and when you look at me my mind stops at the same time that my heart drops. The trembling in my limbs gets worse, and I can feel a sting of tears at the edges of my vision.

My body feels like it is splintering, breaking at the edges but I know it is just my mind. I should be the one crying out in confusion, not you. You are still so close that your outbreak scares me even more because it is like I can feel your existence waver. The room shrinks with you so close in my sight, and the panic rolling from you wraps itself around me as well, melting with my own.

I never thought that the lack of you controlling your facade could make me feel awkwardly broken inside, and every bit as confused as I have been since the beginning of your arrival. The pain welling in my heart makes sure I regret everything I could possibly do wrong, but it is nothing in comparison to watching you fall apart right in front of me. When you back away, releasing me from the close proximity of your foul smelling breath, my mind protests at the lack of it all.

You lean forward again only to bury your face in your hands, clawing at your hair and pulling hard. "I don't know," you mumble, more confused than I am.

It is like I am frozen within the moment, unable to really grasp anything that is currently happening and utterly lost. There are disjointed phrases and useless words, awkward pauses and bare thoughts that are unequal to anything that could stumble from my tongue, though it all still tumbles through my mind. My body is still on high tension, but I can barely feel anything at all and my gaze keeps flickering to the blood underneath your nails. I then realise how pale you really are, how hollow your cheeks seem and how lifeless your hair is.

While the confusion grows, and the fear weaves nets of panic, everything strikes like lightning, reaching out like the cold of a winter breeze and as quick as a heart attack. The flash of insight, the undeniable hints placed about—I stare at you, terrified and suddenly understanding.

Author's Note: No one ever properly understands this one, if you do, please share your theory on it. I would love to know.