“It’s from Beckett.” These lines are part of me, a paradox of fear and hope, self-loathing and pride. Ne me touche pas. Ne me demande rien. Ne me dis rien. Reste avec moi. It’s a favorite moment from a play I’ve read too many times. It’s a surprisingly perfect and concise instruction manual for handling my panic attacks.
They are written indelibly across my skin. I’ve run my fingers across these lines countless times. I like to see a lover do the same, in intimate moments.
“What’s it mean?”
But there is that.
For a moment I’m frozen in place, skin clinging to leather, reticent to reveal what I’ve already put on display. I’m thinking of loneliness, which is always safe and always calm. I’m thinking of betrayal and loss. I’m thinking of a mouth so hot and fierce and dangerous that I never want to stop kissing it. Something shifts. I’m on my knees, too close. My fingers are twitching to trace the line of his jaw or choke him or slip into his mouth.
Ne me touche pas.
He looks so calm. How is he so calm? I push my hair out of my face, lean in to whisper. “Don’t touch me.” He doesn’t move. I close my eyes and breathe. I’m swooning into the heat he generates, listening for his breath over the rushing sound in my head. He doesn’t move. This isn’t close enough. I swing one leg over to straddle him, brace my hands on either side of his head. We aren’t touching. I know we aren’t touching because if we touched I wouldn’t be able to stop. There’s an impossible humidity condensing on my skin, unbearable, unbreathable, but nothing next to the storm. My lips pass over his. I inhale his breath.
Ne me demande rien.
The center cannot hold. I bring my lips to his ear again. I’m breathing too fast, trying to keep control. (of whom?) “Don’t question me.”
His breath catches. The movement brings his earlobe to brush against my mouth. It’s too much. God help me but it’s too much. I sink my teeth in, just below his jaw. He growls. I growl back. I bite his neck, his shoulders, his clavicle. Some light nips, some near to mauling. He lifts his hands from the couch. I don’t wait to see what he does. I grab his wrists and hold them down. I bite his shoulder hard enough to make him whimper, even through his shirt. I feel him straining against my hands. He’s strong, much stronger than I am. He’s not trying to get loose, but not about to surrender either. He starts to say something. I put a hand over his mouth before he can.
Ne me dis rien.
“Don’t speak to me.” I’m sitting on his lap, my face inches from his. He meets my eyes when he nods, and I take my hand away from his mouth. He’s breathing hard, almost panting. So am I.
This kiss is a hurricane. I can’t get enough. I am howling wind and driving rain. I am shoving him back, seeking a way in. This kiss should crack him open. This kiss should have him throwing up panicked defenses. It doesn’t. He is brave, or careless. He has come out to meet me and I’ve made him too slippery to catch. I am surging around him and he’s moving through. He should be pinned beneath my onslaught but I can’t hold him down. This kiss is desperate. Please. Please don’t be so sweet, don’t be so gentle. If he calms me, I may drift apart and be forgotten. Oh, but I love this too. This kiss I can sink into. It will drag me down. It will drown me. I don’t care. His mouth on mine is all that matters, and I can’t remember why I wanted it so vicious, so violent before.
Reste avec moi.
“Stay with me.”
I know he won’t. I don’t meet his eyes. This is pressuring. This is cruel. I want to take it back, because I have pride, because I don’t (no, not ever, can’t) speak hope aloud. I can push anyone away, that’s easy, but inviting someone in?
Est-ce que je t’ai jamais quitté?
Have I ever left you?
Tu m’as laissé partir.
You let me go.