No, it’s fine, you can buy this 1940s British Military Cyma for me for my birthday if you like.
We will be sitting opposite each other at our favourite cafe and you will pass me a small bundle. It will be wrapped loosely in a star chart of the equatorial skies. You know my love of the constellations. Cancer. Canis Major. Vela. Aries. Dorado. Cetus. Auriga. My beloved, my Cassiopeia, etched into the skin of my upper arm by a string of tiny brown beauty spots. You remember the time I undid the top three buttons of my shirt in the pub and pulled my shoulder free, angled myself so my arm was close to your face and I could feel your breath against me. Look. I traced the invisble line between the dots with my finger. One-two-three-four-five. You see how they make Cassiopeia?, I asked. I did it again. It’s a sort of splayed W shape. One-two-three-four-five. You watched. I have a constellation on me. I hold universes, I whispered. You looked at my brown shoulder and nodded.
You will be sitting opposite me watching my face with hopeful eyes. You won’t tell me about the $750 it cost that means you’ll have to live out of your car for the next three months because you won’t have money for rent. I’ll take off the paper, throw it on the floor. I will hold the watch on my palm, its strap circling my hand. I will glance at it and say OK, thanks. I won’t try it on, even though I see you’ve made some extra holes in the strap so it fits my slim wrist, for it is a man’s watch. You have always loved my small hands, my tiny fingers. Gentle as the breeze from a hummingbird’s wings, you call them. And they are. My fingers can read your skin like braille, unlocking the words, the meanings in your body that no one else could, making you shiver and gasp with the sweet shock of being discovered. These fingers, these little hummingbirds, can do that. You love to raise my hand to your lips and turn it outwards, kissing the paleness on the inside of my wrist. Tracing the blue tributaries of my veins there with the tip of your tongue, testing the skin with your teeth. The heat and wet of you against my fingertips, soft and hard and soft again, making something deep inside me soften and unfurl. I am liquid. I am yours.
But today if you try to take my hand I will pull it away. I will put the watch straight in the pocket of my red cardigan. I’m wearing the wool today because the fingers of a cold breeze make their way easily through my thin summer dress, raising gooseflesh on my arms, my belly, my legs. You know how I feel the cold, how, in bed, my chilled feet always find their way to your warm thighs like kittens seeking comfort, making you growl. Get those things away from my bits! you always gasp, laughing, but you press my feet to you to warm them anyway. You hold me close to you, kissing my neck and shoulders as I wriggle and arch against you, squealing and pretending to try to escape your embrace. You pull me on top of you. We breathe each other in. You are mine.
I won’t even try the watch on. Straight into my pocket it will go.
"Don’t you like it?", you’ll ask.
"I bought it for you because I lov…”.
Ugh. OK, whatever.
And then I’ll get up from the cafe table. I won’t look at you. I’ll get up and walk outside into the sunshine with my hands in my pockets and not look back to where you are sitting with your hands splayed on the blue formica, watching my back, watching me walk away. I will wander down the street with the mischievous wind pressing the cotton of my dress tight across my behind, all the time running my thumb over and over the face of the most beautiful watch I have ever seen.
Me and that watch. We have places to go. We have things to do. And oh the adventures we will have together.
You will wait for me. You will wait for me because your heart gives you no other choice and I will find you again.
But not today.