Casie held onto a quote from the only book she had read since meeting Adam. “Youth can handle its failures; it can wake from its botched love experiments wound-licked by its own survival mechanism--that there would be something else around the next corner. The survival mechanism of those who have lost youth: laziness, habit, the fear of falling down.” She read this a few hours after getting off the phone with him. Lying on the futon that her mother made up in the guest bedroom, the left side of her body being swallowed by the trench that marked the center of the bed, these words struck her as being particularly relevant to their relationship. Adam was thirty-nine, and had been in three long term relationships from his youth onward. When talking to Casie, he frequently referred to these women by numbers; the six year, the twelve year and finally the four year. As he spoke, these digits pierced through to the pit of Casie’s stomach like a switchblade, removed themselves, and then hung above her, watching as she squirmed and bled out atop his wine-stained bedsheets. She knew two of his past girlfriends by first name, and his insistence on referring to them as the culmination of their years together seemed malicious and spiteful. In the damp sheets that caught every bead of sweat and secretion through their summer, these numbers served as a validation of his experience over hers.
Casie had thought she was in love on numerous occasions, took it back on several others, and said it out loud once. At twenty-four, she had a string of brief encounters, each still surging through her veins in bursts of blue and green, none of which had outlasted her current relationship with Adam, which had somehow managed to barrel it’s way through to the start of a new season. Leaves left their branches sporadically, as the heat of the summer lurked in the moist creases behind their knees, and in the armpit he once kissed. If Casie were completely honest, she would admit that they had only made it to September, and everything that followed was drunken and sentimental fumbling, two bodies digging into one another as life and new lovers tugged at their feet. Hanging up her phone on the morning before Thanksgiving however, she chose denial. Their bodies hadn’t touched in nearly a week and a half-when he kneeled between her legs and gripped tightly around her waist, ears listening to the sound of her heavy breaths and brown curls catching the beginnings of tears, her lips pressing his forehead. As they said another goodbye that morning, and he once again left their fate to her, she again never felt so close.
He had begun using the word polyamorous, which Casie thought to be a cheap trick used by his rational components; condensing all fears, doubts and lust into an easily definable word was like coming to a duel unarmed. To her, it read as forfeit. For Adam, who woke up alone that Sunday morning, the putrid mix of soaked in alcohol and two days with out showering hovering above him, it was survival. Casie hadn’t minded this smell of hash and liquor that settled into Adam’s skin regularly, and had a fondness for the scent’s own leap to her as they fucked away their hangovers.