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The Thing About the Girl

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“Let’s not talk about it anymore,” Vanessa says firmly, forestalling explanations by placing her finger over Deniz’s lips. He closes them gratefully, feeling absolved by their soft touch; like the priest whose thumb smeared a grimy cross of oil and ashes on his forehead after his first confession. Deniz remembers that he couldn’t think of any sins to confess, so he made them all up, and only afterwards did it occur to him that that was a lie, and he should have confessed it, too.

These days, there’s hardly any need for fabricating transgressions. It seems like he’s heaping them up almost daily: a foot-in-mouth remark about her body, a thoughtless flirt with a model, another blown date, another incident with Roman, whose tempting, smirking mouth just always seems to be right there whenever Deniz’s defences are down.

Roman, who would never say, “Let’s not talk about it anymore.” Roman who would push and question and pester him until he wormed the truth or something like it out of him; Roman who would step right across his boundaries and turn him inside out in his eagerness to learn what’s at the core of him.

Roman wants like fire wants, claiming every scrap of what it touches, making Deniz feel like a child fascinated with a candle: terrified of burning, but incapable of not reaching for the dancing flame.

Vanessa is content to have what matters to her reaffirmed – “Of course I love you”, “I didn’t mean to” and “I’m sorry” – and has developed a knack for turning a blind eye to everything else… a knack that, if he’s honest, Deniz finds a little bit disturbing in this girl who used to be the very picture of straight-forward. Vanessa doesn’t want explanations; she doesn’t demand more than he’s ready to give her, and she never makes him feel like he needs to struggle hard to be worthy of her.

The thing about Vanessa, Deniz suspects, is that she doesn’t want to know that he’s lying to her, and himself, and so she doesn’t ask.

He both dreads and longs for the day when someone will force her to.