“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it.
“I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”
He was quiet. He wanted everything she’d just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with ‘I want you’ in his ears.
Nothing was dirty. With Park.
Nothing could be shameful.
Because Park was the sun, and that was the only way Eleanor could think to explain it.
“Damn, damn, damn,” she said. “I never said why I like you, and now I have to go.”
“That’s okay,” he said.
“It’s because you’re kind,” she said. “And because you get all my jokes…”
“Okay.” He laughed.
“And you’re smarter than I am.”
“I am not.”
“And you look like a protagonist.” She was talking as fast as she could think. “You look like the person who wins in the end. You’re so pretty, and so good. You have magic eyes,” she whispered. “And you make me feel like a cannibal.”
“I have to go.” She leaned over so the receiver was close to the base.
“Eleanor – wait,” Park said. She could hear her dad in the kitchen and her heartbeat everywhere.
“Eleanor – wait – I love you.”
He wound the scarf around his fingers until her hand was hanging in the space between them.
Then he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm.
And Eleanor disintegrated.