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I’m newly blonde and keep flipping my flaxen hair like a teenager, catching sight of my reflection in windows and pausing to stare. Dandelion comes to mind, or angel, maybe; I’m a golden-headed sprite and I surprise myself. No one knows what to make of me out here. Chris and I have driven five hours north to a tiny town in Vermont to get away from the city for a week. Neither of us know what we’re doing. We just know we don’t want to be in the place where both of us are familiar with everything.

The list of things he now knows about me keeps growing: the way I take turns on the little state highway too fast because I grew up with the same country roads; how I look after a shower, hair wet and dripping; the way my skin tightens and swells after a mosquito bite and stays hot for hours; how I moan, loose and filmy, when I come with his mouth on my clit and his fingers thrust inside me. “Don’t be gentle,” I beg. “I won’t break.”

We met a little over a month ago. He’s six years older than me; lives a few avenues away. I, forever the one who shares too much, know hardly anything about him.

Alone in the country I am struck by our difference. We’ve found ourself at a point of intimacy neither of us had counted on reaching; it’s lovely and terrifying. On our first day in Vermont we take a hike up a mountain so strenuous we’re breathless by the time we reach the peak; we stand on the cliff’s edge and watch the hawks make their wide sweep below. Looking out over the valley, over the green mountains, it feels we’re a very long way from Brooklyn.

There is a list of secrets that I am keeping from him. This is how it feels to not want to give someone everything. I want to have no history; I want to exist in pure present tense.

My blonde hair makes me imagine I’m in disguise, a fugitive; I tell him I feel like we’re Bonnie and Clyde. We watch the film curled up on the couch while he strokes the sole of my foot under the blanket. I know they have to die but it’s still jarring to see the way Bonnie’s body jerks, riddled with bullets. Chris tells me he thinks he’ll have nightmares, but I’m the one who has weird dreams while a stag noses around in the brush outside, antlers scraping against the window panels. I wake up mewling and he murmurs, shh, it’s okay; holds me when I ask him to. When we have sex, my hair haloes gold around his face. He looks so perfect when I’m riding him. I want to cry.

By the last day I’m worried I’m in too deep. It’s too much, too fast, even though we wanted it. He slips into town to get groceries without telling me and I wait outside in a paroxysm of anxiety, a peroxide blonde smoking a cigarette in the driveway. He’s startled to find me there, pacing. “I wasn’t sure you wouldn’t come back,” I confess.

That night, he ties me with red rope to one of the beams that buttress the walls of our yurt, hands above my head. Deep in subspace, it’s a relief to submit, to place myself entirely under his care. He fucks me hard, then cradles my face and asks me why I’ve been so anxious. I wonder if he can smell fear on me, if it emanates from the hot space between my legs. I think about all the things I haven’t said, of the pain locked inside me like a series of nested chests.

“I’m scared of being hurt,” I say.


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