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  • Tilly Healing-Perry

When Asked to Talk About Love

When asked to talk about love, I think of the purest love I know. Not between my parents or

distant relatives that I speak to at weddings on occasion. Instead, the two people in my life who

understand each other without a word spoken, without a single utterance or nod of the head.

Every day, I wake up to an empty mug with the letter t on it, with the exception of a lemon and

ginger teabag that sits in the bottom, waiting for its recipient to wake up: their partner knows how

much they appreciate a lie in. Next to it, a neon pink post-it note with a small scribble: get to class

on time. ily., followed by another initial and a heart that barely looks like a heart - but you know

what it is and you know how many of them litter post-it notes in the room down the hall. Occasionally, one will catch your dressing gown as you pass the bedroom door.

Then at lunchtime, if they’re both home, I witness a stolen forehead kiss and an I plugged your

laptop in for you because the tea lover knows how much their partner forgets to charge

everything. They’ll play footsie under the table when I think I’m not paying attention. But it

doesn’t matter. I’ll watch when the spare Airpod is plucked from the case and slid into the other

person’s ear and when an extra potato is put on the other person’s plate with the quietest I’m full,

which they both know is a lie but that doesn’t concern either of them as the plates are collected

and the extra potato is consumed.

There are gentle words of reassurances when there’s a spider in the house, even though I’ll be the

man of the house and end up wrestling with the creature that’s crawling in the tub with no mercy

for them, when there’s a scary movie on the television that night, and anyone else would think any

excuse for them to be even closer to each other. But I don’t mind, when on occasion I pass the

bedroom and hear them laughing at their stories of the day’s events. I love when I hear about one

of their days first and they’ll go I can’t wait to tell them when we get home.

It’s fascinating going out with them. I’ll walk slightly ahead of them or by their side when the

pavement allows, and their fingers will brush but never attach. They’ll exchange a little look and

walk a bit closer, and I wonder sometimes if somebody walking past would even think they were

together at all. I think they prefer it that way. There was one time that one of them, the carefree

but certainly more protective partner, placed a secure hand on their impulsive and uptight

partner’s hip to assist them up the stairs, knowing how clumsy they are, and then the latter held

the door open as they entered the building and for the rest of the day - knowing how much their

partner didn’t like touching public door handles. If someone was to have walked past at that

moment, I think they’d see what I do.

No. I know they’d see it.

I used to think that in a relationship, you had to put the other person’s needs above your own.

Except, their relationship - the type that doesn’t require romantic love to exist, only the focus and

dedication on the feelings that they do feel - would show anyone that you can put your own

oxygen mask on and have the confidence that the other person would do the same.

I loved a girl once. Her hair had a single wave, and she liked to wear it in a ponytail. Every

morning, she would eat a kiwi for breakfast with half a cup of yogurt and then blow-dry her fringe

straight. She didn’t like using pens that smudged, so for her birthday that year I bought her a

smudge-proof pen and enjoyed the handwritten letter she had written for me especially. Except, I

didn’t love her in a way that was memorable to my other lovers. Last year, a boy with round

glasses and a cheeky grin that could get him out of almost any situation caught my eye, and we

were together for two months. By the end, I could tell you his favourite colour was ash brown,

and that he didn’t like the sound felt pens made on paper, but I couldn’t tell you his habits. I

couldn’t tell you what smell he liked most, and what would make his nose turn upwards, or that

he scratched the back of his neck when he was nervous.

I have never experienced a love as deep as theirs - and so unique that even though it’s something

I want, I know I’ll never have a love quite like it.


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