A/N: Stream of consciousness experiment. Trigger warning for eating disorders. Winner of a gold key in the regionals of the Scholastic Art & Writing awards.

The small imperfections scattered across her back remind him of stars glimmering in the night sky, and he traces constellations across them.

Some nights he sees her constellations in the cold darkness and it warms him from inside, but the stars are just dead light and so is she.

She's fading day by day, wasting away and spiraling into herself. He counts her ribs every time he holds her, hoping she's taken one of them and created a more supportive lover for herself.

He's as inconstant as the wind, flitting back and forth like a torn up love note in the breeze. He's young, but she ties him down like a brick bound to his ankle.

Sometimes he tries to untie her from around him but he never can manage it. She'll bleed and cry and shrivel up like she always does, and the twine bringing the two of them together is a little looser, but it never breaks.

Love is a manmade concept. It would be a series of chemical reactions and emotions pulling the world from under us if we hadn't given it a name.

He knows this. That's why he never says he loves her. It feels so unoriginal, so clich├ęd. He doesn't love her.

She's a kid taking her daddy's Cadillac for a spin and he's an outlaw tied to the bumper, dragged along dirt roads and feeling every bump in the road.

He wants to tell her he loves her. Wants to scream it from the top of his lungs. But he's afraid someone would hear him and chide him for being so unoriginal, so he shows her with his hands. He traces her constellations and counts her ribs and feels so gently between her thighs.

He's afraid to touch her arms because he thinks that when runs his rough fingers over her battle wounds, they'll start bleeding again and he'll have to sew her back together with her used needles and a bottle of Jack to sterilize it all.

She wears long sleeves so he won't get angry with her. He doesn't mind the cuts. He thinks they show how brave of a warrior she really is. He just can't stand the lingering reminders of the days when she was the inconstant one, present and kissing him like summer one night and howling at him like gales in the dead of winter the next morning.

He can't say he loves her.

So he says other things instead. He tells her that she is his nicotine; he breathes her in day after day and knows she's going to blacken his insides soon enough, but that he keeps coming back for more. He can't resist her, he is addicted to her and she is destruction.

She reminds him of the ocean, leaving a salty taste in his mouth whenever he's in her ever-colder embrace. She pummels him into the ground and drowns him in emotions he doesn't have words for.

He wanderlusts for the caverns of her ribcage, for the mountains of her breasts and the desert of her stomach. He wants to lose himself in her.

He tells her all of this and she says nothing but her eyes glimmer and her face is all accusation.

He knows she's thinking you should just tell me you love me. But he never will. He considers himself a poet and love is such an overused word.

Love is dead. Youth is dead. Wonder is dead. He has to edge his way around using them with torrential downpours of words.

Instead of youth he says dawn, chill and sunrise and the feeling of possibility. Breeze in your hair, summer in the air, silence and noise and questioning everything.

Instead of wonder he says beauty, colors and clouds at night and the stickiness of staying up drunk all night in august, finding beauty in every single solitary star in the milky way and every bat that flies past and the sound of a lake lulling you into a perfect daze, head spinning and stomach churning but feeling whole after so many years.

Instead of love, he says her name.

She's a poet too, she just doesn't know it. She writes odes to death with every glance towards her torn up body. She composes sonnets to anorexia with every bite she refuses, haikus to bulimia every night bent over the toilet. Every look into his eyes is a freeverse freefall into some kind of purgatory.

He calls her sugar as a kind of irony. She's too bitter to be mistaken for candy, there's just the right amount of sour to confuse everyone around her.

She doesn't get the irony. She thinks it's just a term of endearment. She should know him better than that.

So she calls him cinnamon.

A/N: All feedback is appreciated.