Third Wheel

“What color are my eyes today?”

“Green,” he says, lending his smile to me for the first time yet today. 

“There you are,” I say, watching the edges of his being recoil, reflexively retreating inward like a box turtle. Elbows balanced atop denim, he sinks his cheeks into palms, tugging the sleeves of his shirt skyward. A constellation of faint freckles trickles down his biceps. I try not to notice. Just like a dozen other details orienting me to the here and now, the web of capillaries tangling his sun hazel irises, the fray pattern in the hem of his pants leg, the dollops of light that play across his feet in between the shifting pine needles.

And I am trying to notice, too. I am trying to immerse myself so intricately into this space and time to be present in a way I worry I am no longer capable of; to sync with the profound simplicity of everything this moment is. But mostly I’m aching to crawl inside this snapshot for what it is not. But, really, who am I fooling?
For, just as viscous color and autumnal breezes poke at me, the evergreen needles above thread through me a similar shade of verdant veins, dragging me bak to the battlefield. Veins punctured and poked again and again by the kind of needles that don’t sprout. 

And then, somehow, the hues and picturesque architecture framing what just minutes ago was a bedazzled view, cracks. The grainy texture of the bench supporting us, red tiled roofs arching proudly taller and taller remain, but they don’t matter. Even the chirp chirp chirping of flighted feathers seems superfluous and burdensome. Because I am no longer here. I cannot be here while I am with the pain.