By Tabatha Jenkins
I collect people like books.
I gather love from each one as if they were a meadow.
I once knew a woman who would rise at dawn to wander through her neighbor’s field, picking wild onions. I would find her in the afternoons, cutting her freshly stolen onions and humming to herself. I loved her because she would always touch my face in a motherly fashion. She also shared her mushrooms with me. I left her after she asked me to help her break into her neighbor’s house. Apparently there were better onions stashed in their pantry.
I fell in love with a man after that. He knitted socks in various fashions and colors. He made the best spaghetti marinara and never asked me about my life. I believe he assigned me one when he first met me at a coffee shop. Lattes tend to be ordered by sophisticated people who have nowhere to go, or at least that’s what I’ve always been told. He held my hand whenever we walked to the library, and one day he kissed me in the self-help section. I had never been kissed before and the fact that he did it so blatantly shocked me. Therefore, I left his house that night without leaving a note or any kind of explanation. I haven’t ordered a latte since then.
I mainly stuck to women after that. I found that their expressions of love weren’t as aggressive. That was until I met the museum curator. She wore stilettos and had her dark hair cut into a bob. She discovered me amongst the Egyptian exhibit and immediately delved into conversations of the ancient civilization. The only thing I knew about them was that they would pull the brain out through the nose during mummification. This seemed to humor her, however, since she chuckled. She demanded that I have dinner with her. I agreed. I fell in love with her over Chinese food. Her mind was so vast and her emerald eyes were electric. That night was the only one we shared though. When we went back to her house, she started to kiss me. I wasn’t even able to finish the glass of wine she poured for me when her tongue found its way down my throat. I pulled away only to find that her eyes had ignited with anger. I was the wrong person for leading her on. I was the one going to miss out on a nice lay. I didn’t want sex, I wanted companionship. I slept on a park bench that night.
A week of roaming around led me into a flower shop one day. There was a young man with dirty blonde hair at the counter. He seemed shy when I first approached him. I reached over and plucked a rose from a sample bouquet on the counter and handed it to him. This produced the sweetest smile that I have ever seen grace a face. His dimples were poignant and his cheeks blushed. I knew I had to know his name, but he wouldn’t tell me. I asked about his favorite music (folk), his favorite food (apples), even his favorite kind of movie (indie). I kept coming back to the flower shop for a month after that, slowly getting closer and closer to him. One day, I accompanied him down the street to a bakery during his lunch break. We each got blueberry muffins and sat outside on the sidewalk in the sunlight. He leaned his head on my shoulder and asked me what I thought about depression. I knew that it was a debilitating disease and told him so. He was quiet after that even though I felt a blaring new tension between us. The next day he wasn’t at work. Three days went by before one of his coworkers went to check on him and found him hanging in his closet. It destroyed me. I didn’t want to know anyone else after that.
It took a young woman with a guitar that she would play in the park to lighten my dark mind. I was walking down the path when I saw her sitting under a tree. I liked the melody that she was playing and asked to sit with her. She sang Bob Dylan and munched on oatmeal cookies, of course sharing with me. I asked her if she ever loved anyone and she simply told me that she loved the Earth. I loved her for her honesty, but also knew that I was pretty small compared to the Earth. I left her when the sun started to creep below the tree line.
I don’t have anyone right now. I’m simply wandering the world. I love all of the people that I have known, but I know that none of them were meant to be forever. I don’t mean to be picky, or seem pretentious. I just don’t want to be squished into a slot that I don’t fit into. I haven’t a library that has every book I need. And maybe I never will, and that’s ok. I just hope that one day I might find someone that needs me as much as I need them.
About the Author:
Tabatha Jenkins is a recent college graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello where she studied English and Creative Writing. She was a intern staff member for the Foliate Oak Literary Magazine during part of her time as an undergrad and served as the Flash Fiction editor. She also published her first editorial publication in May of 2017. You can learn more about her at her personal website: http://tabathajenkins.wixsite.com/tabathajenkins.