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the perception that divides you from him (is a lie)

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this is the story of Josh’s face:

             (actually, this is an interpretation done in pencil because I’ve forgotten to buy proper charcoal)

it starts out safe, and funny, and endearing, and pretty where you least expect it; there goes his hair, sticking up looking thick but actually it’s all kind of feathery, thinning in places but soft to touch, so soft, and there’s no real hope of capturing it, really, because it’s just such a mess, isn’t it

             (“oh god, I’m sorry, but… that’s Donald Trump hair, like, slightly younger Donald Trump hair which I do appreciate, but… but you’ve given me Donald Trump hair”)

and then his eyes are actually really big, really lovely, and I wish just once I could draw them from when they look at me, really look at me

             (even then I wouldn’t be sure what to do about the colour in this medium, so I’d probably just leave them mostly alone, just a few very light lines hinting at blue)

but anyway, his eyes are closed, aren’t they, because the last thing Josh would ever let himself get caught in is actually sitting there, fully aware, with someone sketching him, let alone me

             (and what I’d really love to do but would refrain from is to frame them in really thick kohl, to make them pop, but that wouldn’t be true to the source material, and to be honest, I have trouble with artistic licence, it seems too close to lying)

but for now I just leave them alone, conceding to the large, lined lids the secrets of the eyes they keep

and his nose is sort of… well, ridiculous, really – who would love a nose like that –

             (who wouldn’t love a nose like that)

sometimes I like to imagine how this would go, usually while Josh is asleep, like now, and I would draw him

             (it never does go like this, obviously, because Josh would notice immediately and say, “please don’t stare at me while I’m sleeping, Geoffrey, it’s a bit creepy, isn’t it”)

and I would get it just right, those funny lines bracketing Josh’s mouth

             (“old lady lines, they’re old lady mouth lines, gosh, can’t you just leave those out?”)

that make his face just right, give it symmetry, the walls that hold up his lower face and quirk and move and dance with his expressions

but that’s where it gets dangerous because there’s the mole on his lip, it should be off-putting but

             (and this is pathetic, I do know that)

I’ve always liked the feel of it when we kiss, the slight bump nudging into my lips, and I imagine it’s one of the things Josh will look at when he sees this sketch

             (Josh will never see this sketch)

he will look at that, the fine ovoid shadow cupping the negative space where his mole is, and be touched by it, by the fact that I found beauty in this small splotch of grey

             (“honestly, though? I mean, that’s really, really visible – like, I think you’ve actually made it bigger than it is, is that really necessary? isn’t that the kind of stuff you’re supposed to leave out? kindness in art, or artistic licence, or something?”)

but sooner or later these lines, the lines of the sketched Josh and the imagined Josh and the real Josh will blur together like badly merged layers in Photoshop

             (that’s why I prefer the old-fashioned way, no danger there of accidentally copy-pasting the wrong thing)

because sooner or later Josh will wake up

             (sooner or later Josh will wake up)

and his face – his funny, squishy, lovely face – will sort of scrunch up as he squints at the sketch, and his mouth – his thin mouth, but mobile, like this – will go into a round “o” shape and his breath will sort of catch because he will realise that no one else has captured these lines like I have, no one else has learned the story of his face by heart

             (his face will sort of scrunch up and go, “nah… nah, no, nope, no thank you,” even if he doesn’t say any of those words with his mouth, he can say them so well with the rest of his face, in condemning silence)

and it’s not like any of this means anything at all, I know that, like, I don’t even need endorsement for this, I’m not on commission, I just like Josh’s face, just really like it; I like tracing it with this sharpened pencil and then smudging the lines, softening them with the edge of my thumb

             (so maybe I do do artistic licence, because Josh’s face isn’t really soft, is it, even if it had the potential to be, Josh sort of makes it sharp with what he puts into it)

and it’s not like I need Josh to even see it, let alone say, “wow, Geoffrey, that is so – I mean, that’s so much prettier than I am… is that really how you see me?”

             (“wow, Geoffrey, this makes me look ancient! But, I mean, I’m flattered, obviously, but, well, it doesn’t really look like me, does it?”)

so maybe all it means is that small quirk of Josh’s mouth – this one – is telling me, “I didn’t realise. I didn’t realise you truly saw me”

             (“just, I’m not sure I’m that comfortable with anyone obsessing this much over my face, okay?”)

“Geoffrey, this is amazing and I think”

             (“you’re – I don’t know how to say this, Geoffrey, but I think”)

“I think I get it now, I do”

             (“that you just think this is way more than it really is, okay?”)

because it’s all a lie, like artistic licence, and Josh simply doesn’t love me, or see me – I’m not sure Josh can truly see anyone, least of all himself – and no matter with how much love I draw this face, it doesn’t translate, doesn’t come to life like that really hot cartoon guy in that old a-ha song I adore, it can’t cross over into the real world and mean something

because no two people ever can be happy for any significant amount of time and no one ever stays together, and no one ever stays

             (and no one ever stays)