I wake up and shave every morning before I see her, pluck every stray whisker poking out from my cheeks. I douse on the essential oil that I bought at the cornerstore back home so that maybe one day she’ll notice and ask something more about me. I’m afraid to touch her, even a handshake. I’m afraid what that touch will tell me about any sort of future between us; a slight brush of the fingertips as she takes the turmeric roots from my palms is all I can handle.
I gift her two mangosteens from the Sunday market and she cuts them open right there, right then, and shares half of them with me. She smiles as we cheers together the two shells housing its white fleshy center. She tells me the tips of the bananas I'm buying are black because they were angry at the way they were cut from the tree, and thinks it’s cute when I stop mid-sentence to dip into my pocket dictionary to find the right word, because between us, every word counts. She laughs when I use “sabor” instead of “gosto” when I tell her she has good taste in music, and gets why I chuckle to myself when I watch her speak to other people; she knows it's not out of mockery, but because it’s the only way I can express my awe at the way that she interacts with the world.
She is fierce beyond words, strength in every part of her body, even her hair. Especially her hair. She hardly blinks when I tell her about the time I saw death, when its icy grip coursed a morbid fear through my veins; she only looks at me with compassion and understanding, hoping I didn't let its lessons pass me by. There is a softness to her, the way she touches the dust of her chin. Her embrace of a small child still shares in his wonder, and tells me that she has a kind heart, a gentle soul.
I’m scared of her, terrified actually. We once spoke about swimming and I told her that I’m scared of the water because it could kill me. The things in life that can kill should scare, but they should also incite a wild curiosity, because that is where fire burns. That’s where love hides. She’s my water, my lifeforce. I already know it.