She rolled over and faced King, pulling the blanket closer around her feet. She ran her fingers through his beard. It took up half of his face and she liked the scruffy feel on her fingers.
King moved his face and kissed her open palm and she uttered to him, “You’re so beautiful.” Did he care that she described him with a feminine word? He didn’t mutter a complaint.
“Thank you.” He rubbed his face in her hand and she caressed his chin, his beard tickling her, “You’re so gorgeous.”
Her lips twitched at his words. “Stop it. You don’t have to say that.” She stopped herself from smiling and rolled her eyes. Glad that the darkness concealed the action, she rolled them again. Why did he say things he didn’t mean?
“I mean it, though.” He said, as if he read her mind, “You’re beautiful. And that 40 pounds you think you have to lose? You don’t have to. You’re perfect as you are.”
She didn’t feel perfect. Losing weight wasn’t about perfection. It was about returning to the body familiar to her. Her pre-quarantine body, with the flat stomach and smooth backside. She thought back to the last time she wore something that revealed her stomach. It had to be February, when she’d been in college. It was before the pandemic went to hell. She’d worn a bralette with a baggy plaid shirt on top and leggings. The bralette gave her enough cleavage to make her mother complain and showed the diamond belly piercing she’d gotten years ago.
“I wonder why you do it.” King mumbled.
“Do what?” Her body froze at the thought of what he was going to say. Had she let something slip?
“Why you say things about yourself. You’re so pretty. You make these jokes about yourself. In a negative way. And I don’t know if that’s a part of the coping mechanism you told me about or if you’re just straightforward like that.”
She didn’t like being exposed. He’d already seen her bare body yet, but she felt more naked by him noticing that about her. He was talking about her self-deprecating ways.
How she spoke about being ugly. Rolled her eyes and told him to stop playing with her when he said that she was beautiful. She didn’t buy it. She couldn’t buy it. Because he’d already joked too much at the beginning. He’d joked about her wide nose, the gap between her top teeth, how she was catfish. He’d commented on how she didn’t look like her profile. She laughed with him and threw jokes…