by Masha Rumer

Dance for me, my love. Swing those hips, let me hear that rustling skirt. And who could say no when they see you dance? No, you’d better come sit on my lap and cuddle up close, my little gypsy. I want to see the world through your eyes. I want to absorb your joy and pain as my joy and pain, and feed on grapes by your pouty mouth, for I become a man when you call my name, for you animate my body by your full-fledged devotion. I need you. And I forbid you, my lovely, from thinking too much, because thoughts are brewing in that cute little head of yours and what do I know of those thoughts? Don’t speak—you talk in riddles. Scary riddles. And don’t you dare raise your voice, I am louder. Closer, like that. Shush, my butterfly, shush. Please, let me love you.  

But the butterfly escaped one day, making her flight for miles and miles, and she threw up somewhere in the bushes until she was dry heaving and her stomach twisted in knots, and she rolled around in the grass to deaden the musk of his sheets and cut off her locks with a pocket knife so that her hair would have never been wound around anyone’s fingers; and she yelled dirty words—at the trees and at the passing cars, words from the gutter, raspy, bitter and full, convulsing in tears and laughter in her celebration, with only the moon watching. There was sweetness in those pearlescent dewdrops. Freedom, so that’s what it feels like. Hear my shuddering, laughing curses!  

But, wait, what’s the context here? Who is this wild creature and what is she running from? And what made her so delightfully amorous, propped on a pin?

Her name could be Jenny, or Azadeh or Ming, and she could be 15 or 51, in Oakland, Oklahoma or New York City, lanky and bohemian or with freckles and a belly. She could have a one-way airplane ticket somewhere warm or a pair of strong legs to traverse a field. She’s got her reasons. With or without bruises or nicknames, with or without cash, with months or years of silent recognizance behind, she could have a tiny room waiting across the river, a lover’s apartment, a train station’s awning, or just the jolting cold air of the night. Nothing but anticipation of her own glorious colors unraveling, to be set in motion at dawn.

And the sky was big and the stars were numerous, and they were hers, all hers.

Masha Rumer holds a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature and works as a journalist in New York. Her writing has been published in the U.S. and abroad.