Last Gift(9)

By: Jessica Clare, Jen Frederick

“Painting is a blind man’s profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.” I quote Picasso at her because I have no thoughts of my own.

Her smile wavers.

I rush to explain, my words tumbling out like a torrential rain—hard and scattered. “I dream of being owned by you. In my fantasies, you wear my mark to tell everyone not that you belong to me but that I belong to you. But it is only in my mind. Never would I dare to give voice to this…” I cast about for the right word. “This want.”

“You once told me that your tattoos tell your story and I want mine to do the same.” Her lips tremble with emotion.

I lunge at her, unable to stand here this full of love and not hold her in my arms. We sink to the ground, our arms wrapped around each other. I hold her loosely to my chest so I do not rub against her tender skin. There is a wetness on my face and at first I look up to see if there is a leak in one of the exposed pipes but I realize it is me. That I am the one leaking moisture.

Daisy brushes away the tears. “I’m hoping these are tears of joy?” Her voice holds a gentle teasing.

I try to speak but the fullness in my throat prevents any words from escaping. The gift I’ve purchased for Daisy seems callow compared to hers. I swallow and try again. “When I am born, it is to a woman who has no name. She is a prostitute for the Bratva. They take me from her and maybe she bears more sons or daughters. The Bratva is my family. The gun is the teat from which I draw my sustenance. I grow strong feeding off the suffering of others until one day it sickens me and I turn away, abandoning the strict principles I have been taught as a Bratva soldier. But in turning away from the Bratva, I leave the only family I know. It is fine, I tell myself, because I need no one. Until you, Daisy. When I see you and your smile, I suddenly realized my whole soul’s purpose was to find you and become yours. I am clay in your hands. My life, my heart, it is all yours. That you would claim me as your own is the greatest gift you could have ever given.”

Now Daisy is crying and our tears are mixing together. Our embrace is not sexual but spiritual. We are touching each other more deeply in this one moment than in all the moments we have been naked and together. “You’re my heart Nick. I claim you.”

I shudder at her words and she repeats them, this time more loudly and with more force. “I claim you.”

She pushes me away slightly and digs into her pocket. Unfurling her hand, she presents to me a ring box. She hastily unwraps it and pulls out a pair of rings.

I am dumbfounded as she slides one onto my left hand. “I claim you,” she whispers, kissing me softly, her lips dragging along mine. I try to capture them but she is too quick for me. A metal object is pressed into my palm. It is the other ring. Trembling, I lift her left hand and slide the ring onto her finger.

“I am yours then, and you are mine,” I say.

Her smile lights up on the room and it is as bright as day inside our apartment. I see her beautiful soul, white and glowing, and next to it is my soul, smaller, but within her circle of light. Satisfaction burns straight through me and transforms into desire. Later, after we have confirmed our union   with a physical coupling, I will give her the car keys. I know she won’t protest because it is nothing compared to the gift she has given me.

I manage to stagger to my feet, still overwhelmed. Sweeping Daisy into my arms I walk purposefully toward the bedroom. Gifts, I realize, are not measured by their monetary value. I could spend and spend and spend on Daisy and never match the spirit of what she has handed me. Human life is short, a mere blue dot in the universe that appears and then disappears in the blink of an eye.

But the love of two people? It is the very essence of being.