Trigger Warning: This post is about sexual abuse and domestic violence. If these topics upset you or you don’t feel comfortable reading about these topics, please do not continue.
His flashing eyes and the bridge of his nose were exposed; he had a black bandana wrapped around his mouth like a bandit. He wore a pair of tight cigarette jeans and a thin cotton tee. He tossed ropes of fire around his head, his eyes glittering mischievously. Later, he told me that when he first saw me, his concentration shattered, and he burnt his hair. He blew plumes of fire. His kisses would later taste of kerosene.
I don’t know what it was about him, but I was hopelessly addicted to him when I first saw him. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. As he strolled past me, his lean, lanky body called out to me. I grabbed him, and the words poured out of me. I told him about my brother’s wedding and made up some story about how maybe he could perform with his fire poi at the wedding.
He grinned at me, scribbled down his name and phone number on the back of a business card, and inside of the small hookah lounge my best friend and I were, he sat down with his friends. I went back to my drink and my best friend, but every once and a while, I found myself stealing glances at him.
Sitting only a few feet from him, I sent him a text message. I giggled as I watched him read it. Then, I went back to my falafel and drink.
That night, when I got home, drunk on mixed drinks and the high of giving the cute performer my number, I grinned when he sent me text message after text message. We texted all night until I fell asleep, my phone battery drained.
I was just getting settled into my new apartment, unpacking, when my phone buzzed. It was him. The fire performer I had met last night. He texted me insistently that night. At the time, I thought it was cute. Now, I know better: he was love-bombing. I had low self esteem, so his relentless compliments and begging me to let him see me felt like flattery.
I had just gotten out of a relationship, and though it ended amicably, my heart hurt from it. This cute guy was interested in me; it was very obvious. My best friend was at my place, helping me with my boxes, and she encouraged me to invite him over. At her insistence and with the assistance of a cerveza, I suggested he stop by.
My best friend and I took a break from unpacking boxes when he arrived. We sat on the new, used couch I had bought, he slumped on the floor, his back against the couch. We chatted for hours, laughing like we had known each other for years. Each time I went into the kitchen for more cerveza, my best friend would whisper into my ear, “He’s so cute.”
Neither of us knew any better.