I can't kiss you

Short story by Anduena Hajdari

Duomo di Siena, Italy

He is almost done with her thighs. His hand is placed on the cold stone as he gently blows the dust away. He reaches after his hammer and starts carving her hips in the dusty soapstone. Every beat is gentle yet hard enough for her to feel  underneath her. It slowly numbs her inner thighs, making her blood rush to her chest and neck. Her lips are warm and rosy, and her hair thick, resting on her shoulder while she sits quietly with her eyes following his vain visible hands. She can’t reach the red whine on the marble floor, and since she can’t move, she asks as soon as the carving stops: “can you hand me my glass, please?” He places his tools on the hardwood table, brushes his hands against each other, and takes off his glasses. He walks towards her, bends down and takes her glass up, all while looking at her. 

“Are you cold?” he asks while handing her the glass. 

“A little.” He turns up the heat on the fan heater and grabs a blanket on his way back to her. “Let’s take a break.” 


She tightens her white sheet around her chest, and covers her legs with the long end while he covers her shoulders. China plates with linden flower prints make a mellow shrilling sound when moved around on marble. He serves her pan-fried bread with eggplant, and pours more wine into her glass. They have spent 5 hours in this impression-rich room with creme marble floors and renaissance paintings covering the walls. She licks the crumbs off of her lips and takes one more sip of her wine. “I think I have had enough,” she says with tipsy eyes and a smile. “You have to drink up for it to work,” he says and so she drinks her last drop. 


The warm air smells like melted candles and sand. The pillows underneath them are suddenly softer to sit on – so soft one could melt into the fabric. 

He doesn’t say much. His oversized white shirt is dusty and wrinkled, but that only makes him look more desirable. He has fine lines around his eyes, and his hair is ashy and untamed. She wonders why she has allowed herself to be in this position knowing her weakness very well – him. Sitting right in front of her, calm, elegant, and gracious. 

Oh my, she thinks and sinks deeper into her pillow. 


Their conversation stopped as he slowly stands up and takes the plates and glasses and places them beside his tools on the table. He walks past her as she carefully watches his movement. He changes the LP and walks back to her, handing her a hand. 

“Dance with me”, he says. She feels the goosebumps forming all over her skin, and with a hesitant mind, she lets her body decide. 

Thesecondsex plays the softest music as she places her head on his chest while slow-dancing on creme marble in a cathedral. She looks up and admires the golden detail-rich ceiling while his fingers glide down her neck. “I don’t want to leave this place ever again,” she says to herself as her brain slowly erases her memory of home. They are both foreigners in this country, but they have never felt more at home. 


“It feels like the walls are on fire”, she says and walks away.

The sheet which was wrapped around her naked body drops as she stands in front of a painting. “The dove is on fire”, she says with a fascination in her voice, and places her hand on the feet of the holy spirit, flying towards a woman with a white dove. He is stunned by her body, unable to move by the admiration of her voice. 


Colours float in the charged air as she presses her cheek into the painting. “Can you hear it?” She turns around and starts moving her body up against the art decorated wall, slowly following the rhythm of the music. He sits down silently and watches her every move. The stonehard floors under her feet turn soft. Her steps feel like walking on water, and her arms have never been lighter, so she moves them with zero effort – unsynchronized to the beat of her heart. 

She moves out of her self and back into her body. She is sucked into her veins, riding the stream of her blood. 


“My heart is singing!” Her eyes are closed, and her head is tilted backward, stretching her neck and letting the pheromones float out into the air. 

He is still sitting with his legs crossed. His body moves gracefully in small circles back and forth against the clock. He has been swallowed by the floor and the blanket on which he sits. His fingertips are numb and charged with energy at the same time. He wants to touch her, but it almost feels like he already does. He can feel her skin, the warmth of her stomach, and the beat of her music playing inside of her. 

“I can’t kiss you,” he says. 

“But you are,” she replies and keeps on dancing up the wall with her eyes closed. 

“I am afraid I’ll drown.” 


She opens her eyes and stops dancing. “What if you don’t?” She says. What if you learn how to swim?” He doesn’t say a word and looks away, so she leaves her wall, still burning, and goes down on her knees in front of him. “But I am right here. And I won’t be again if you don’t kiss me.” 

“I will drown,” he says again. 

“I promise you won’t.”

He stares at her with every eye, letting his thoughts wander freely. He leans forward and reaches her. He holds, breathes in her aura and lets his lower lip touch hers just enough for the thin skin to stick. “I can’t,” he whispers into her mouth. 


She moves her head away, disappointed and hurt. The state in witch she’s in doesn’t allow her to cry, leaving her confused by her own mind. “Why are you telling me this now?” 

“You are not just a body anymore.” 

“Let me come in, and I will show you everything you need to know,” she says and places her hand on his chest.” A warm sorrow enters her stream as she feels his beat. “Don’t do that…” He grabs her wrist but he doesn’t remove her hand. His eyes get wet and his breath deep as he closes his eyes. 


All he wanted was to carve her in stone so that he could have a part of her forever. He knew how to step back when she came to close and how to look away when she tried to see him. He knew her only for weeks, but the moment he saw her, he knew that she would be in his mind forever. “I am a free bird,” he had said to himself that day. He had kissed her lips, played her like a harpe, and painted her face. He had carved half of her body in stone, and now she sat on her knees, trying to enter his heart. 


But he wouldn’t let her in. He removed her hand and said once again, “I can’t kiss you,” knowing very well that he would regret those words forever. 


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