I could feel him whisper, his five o’clock shadow sandpapering against my neck, and the impact of his words on my flesh from his breath bringing goose bumps. He was taller than me, and we learned on an early night out together how he seemed to fit in against my ear and neck. He always smelled of linseed oil. His lower torso sometimes pressing in against me like we were in a perpetual country western slow dance.  He never spoke out loud, just breathed the words on my neck as we stopped to examine each piece. I was worried that we’d get in trouble with museum security for being so publicly affectionate. He repeated the words. We moved past paintings and sculptures, in the space between my mind worked on his question.  Moving between galleries there was a reflective glass. We stopped a moment and looked at the two of us together. Looking into the reflection with me, he reached around me and caught my attention with his hands. As he repeated the soundless question against my neck, a Cheshire smile spreading across his face, then spoke to me in sign. “What do you feel?”

October 24, 2015