Taxicab

He grabbed her hand and held on tight, as if she could actually feel through that pound of flesh. It was so useless, a gesture like that. She knocked her head against the taxicab window, and the cold that seeped through her forehead gave her a brain freeze.

"Stop that."

"Hm?" He squeezed harder. "This?"

"Obviously," she muttered, letting the irritation speak for itself. It wasn't so much that his hands were enormous and practically engulfed hers, or that the sweat from his palm was now sweat on her palm. Those kind of things used to bother her, sure. But like everything else about him, it was one of those things she had grown to tolerate. She should've known, just like her mother always said... If you have to tolerate a man, he's not worth your time.

"Well, you told me you liked it the first time we went out."

And the nerve he had to bring it up that way. "That was forever ago...And besides, I was just being nice."

She expected him to hold on for another good hour or so, at least until they had to get out of the car. It was just how he was – always clinging, always affectionate, like a little puppy. She had told him this once, thinking that the bruise to his ego of being compared to an animal would spark some kind of change in him. It didn't. All it did, really, was make him try harder. And so many romantic surprise dinners... Sometimes she wouldn't even show up, just because she knew from his hints that he was planning something. Sometimes she would just go to her ex's house and spend the night to escape "work stress," just so she could feel the warmth of someone different for a change.

She was horrible. But to be fair, he let her. He let her do anything she wanted, no matter how unforgivable the act. "Because I love you," he always said. As if this "love" thing was really that durable. She knew just as well as anyone should that love wears down over time, and that the feelings of attraction, attachment, and commitment always decline like a car's scheduled break-down. And the only reason she was still in this relationship was because she didn't have anything better to do.

"Woah, look over here!" He yanked her hand out of the middle seat between them and into his childish world. "The sky is red!" He tapped the window with his index finger. Just like he said, it was as if a dark orange tarp had covered their world in the past ten minutes. She inhaled, feeling suddenly as if the world really was moving on without her. But letting out the air of a heart-wrenching moment, she turned her gaze to look at his untainted skin, the slant of his neck, and those dark eyelashes to envy. Even though he was nineteen years old, he still had such a boyish face. He was hopelessly fixed to the word "cute" rather than "attractive." Some things don't change, she had always thought.

But at that moment, he looked different from all of the times they had been together and from all of the pictures she had seen of him. With the slight pull at his lips and the hint of tranquility in his eyes, he was older. She couldn't tear herself apart from those familiar features, the candidness of the moment, and the scent of his soap nearby. And as much as she wanted to, she couldn't ignore the way the red light faded into his skin like mist falling from the sky.