“Let me sketch you,” Edward says on one of our first dates.

We’re in a museum, and we’ve wandered into the children’s wing. Kids are shrieking happily, making giant soap bubbles and pressing big red buttons that light up giant displays of frogs or dinosaurs. There’s an art area tucked in the corner, the only people sitting there are tired parents with armfuls of coats and sweaters watching their children run around the room at full tilt.

Edward sits down in front of a comically small easel, made of sturdy yellow and blue plastic. He tears off the top sheet of paper and arranges several colors of magic markers in front of him. For a long moment, he stares at me. Just when the feeling is getting uncomfortable, he picks up a black marker and furiously begins to sketch. The marker goes dry, he picks up the green one instead.

Within moments, with just a few well placed lines, he’s replicated me in multi-color: the bump on my nose, the loose hair falling from my ponytail. I look beautiful, and it surprises me. I’ve never seen myself through someone else’s eyes before.

“No one’s ever drawn me before,” I say, carefully taking the sketch.

“That’s a shame ,” he says, “You’ve got a wonderful face.”

The next time he asks to sketch me, we’re at his house, in bed. We’re still breathless from fucking, the languid autumn sun streams through the windows across the rumpled sheets. He leaps from the bed, still naked, and hauls in an easel and a tin box filled with charcoals. This time the easel is wooden and paint-splattered. I watch as he sets it up, arranges his things precisely. I fake a pin-up girl pose, and he frowns slightly. He stands over me, and arranges my arms, my legs, rolling me on my side, not facing him, but the wall.

Even though I can’t see him, I feel the weight of his intense gaze upon me. His practiced eye lingers on the curve of my hip, the turn of my ankle. I’m completely exposed and completely invisible all at once.

The room is silent except for the scratching of the charcoal on the paper. His dog walks click click click down the hallway and it sounds like thunder in the concentrated quiet.

Edward takes his time with this sketch. He stands, walks around the bed, crouches down now and again, and wordlessly goes back to his drawing. A breeze flutters the curtains, it feels good on my sticky, sweaty skin. Carefully, I try to stretch my leg a little, but he makes a little disapproving noise, I stop moving.

I’m getting bored. A dozen little itchy spots spring up. I have to blow my nose. I want a drink of water. I want him to come fuck me again. I don’t dare break his concentration though. There will be plenty of time for that in the months to come, when he’ll say I distract him too much, that he can’t work while I’m around.

Finally, he says he’s done. I stretch out fully, soothing my cramped muscles. I stand up, walk around to his side of the easel. He wraps his arm around me, his charcoal dusted hand resting on my hip, leaving little smudgy black trails.

It’s gorgeous, sexy, a work of adoration. All my peaks and valleys, light and shadow, every essence trapped then released on paper. I realize that this is will be a different kind of love, far apart from college boys and their cheap gas station bouquets.

Immediately he hangs the sketch over his bed. He’ll look at it every night before he falls asleep, every morning when he wakes up. I’m always there, he’ll tell me, watching over him. We’ll make love under that sketch, we’ll fuck and we’ll fight, so many things will play out in that little room in the time to come.

One day, years from now, I’ll come over, after we’ve been broken up longer than we were ever together, I’ll ask what happened to it, and he’ll tell me he couldn’t bear to look at it any more, and threw it away.

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