He brushed my chin with his sausage fingers and a smile broke on my lips. Whether it was his touch or the blood pulsating through my veins, there was something about him. He smirked his lips and they turned into some rosy pink. I bit my lower lip, his eyes were smoky. There and then, I searched for his eyes with mine. They were the windows to the most beautiful thing I ever set my eyes on. The cannibal in me, the one that sought to rip him apart and pull out his soul rose. My heart thumped even faster. Breath whizzed through my nose and my lungs fought for all the air around him. I just wanted to breath him in and let his wholeness consume me.

The waiter’s clumsiness woke me up from this crazy delirium. I caught my breath, just at the moment he asked for the manuscript. See, I was just a girl trying to meet a boy. Like every girl’s dream, I wanted to be loved and devoured. I savored at every moment to force a connection, to push a story. But today, I was a girl stuck between getting known and getting heard. Most publishers stopped at my face, the thing between my ears. Muma was impressed by the vile that oozed from mind. He likened my mind to a place that was not geographical, rather a feeling. He thought he would set up camp in my mitote. He caught every word that dropped from my mouth and plastered it somewhere in his memory box. He coined my thoughts with adjacent feels and rubbed my hand reassuringly whenever the canvas ran blank.

My soul was at its weakest; lust. I licked my lips, tilted my head and fidgeted in my seat as he flipped through the pages of my manuscript. He kept on gasping for air, clearly mesmerized by my work while I, by God’s work.

I gently tapped his hand, ‘Breath! ‘

A smile dancing on my lips while my shoes were annoyingly picking on my small toe. The pinching bitchy pointed toe pumps threw me off balance. I took the discomfort like a hard lump that either way had to be swallowed. I could not let him see the ugly, he would not lay with me in the messy bed of life. The ugly was the frailness in me. The vulnerable in me that was too insecure of myself and tried hard to at least be liked. My best guess however, he was already in love with some abstract part of me that spilled out in the pages of my book.

Yes, he was my publisher. Or really the first publisher who had seen me. He made me feel visible. He made every thought that visited or stopped at my brain feel beautiful. I could tell from the way his eyes danced through the letters that my mind was among the cities he wanted to visit. He stopped amid a page, tapped his fingers playfully on the table and looked up. ‘This is exquisite. Your original work? For an artist, those words are deadly like any other. In fact, it is quite insulting. We pride ourselves in our work. Every piece that we create tells our story so questioning the originality of it all is likened to re-examining our whole identity. Whether we truly exist, or in the real sense we are a concept. Cockily, ‘This is my story. I put it in the pages of this book because the agony of not telling it all, was to much a burden to bear.’

His face was clouded with some sad. In that moment, tears danced in his eyes. My mouth dropped ajar. Why this moment felt momentous yet at the same time emotionally burdened, I am yet to wrap my fingers around it. Muma wanted to fix me. He wanted to stitch me up and color the dark pages of my life. I blankly stared at him. This life had wired me for struggle and so, I struggled with sympathy. Sympathy was a wasted emotion, or an emotion that was unaccounted for. I wanted to put my book in shelves, go for some book tour and sign autographs. He on the other hand, wanted to publish my soul.