I don't know what I am to Henry and I don't know what he is to me. There's always a distance between us, a void or a space just big enough to have its own atmosphere. It's there because we want it to be, the both of us. When something or someone gets too close we feel suffocated and push it away, so we keep that distance just to make sure we survive.
He calls me from campus late on Thursday, I can almost smell the alcohol over the wireless transfer. "It's Valentine's" he says.
"Do you want to watch a movie" he asks, so we do, something French without subtitles, we pretend we understand every word. The sex afterwards is cold in a way that penetrates the skin like needles on a mannequin. I get up and stand by the open window, the warm light from the neon signs outside makes me feel a little less naked. "You look like a Vermeer painting" he says from under the covers. It's a sweet gesture.
When I was little, in primary school, everyone put childish banalities in the Valentine's Day cards we were forced to pass around in class. "You're cute", "I like you", "Will you be my Valentine". Carl wrote "as long as there is evil in the world I will always protect you".