With slow, deliberate strokes he follows the lines in my face with his fingers.
“You are so beautiful,” he says. I look down.
“Listen to me.” He pulls my face up to look at him. “You are beautiful.”
“Even with the wrinkles?”
“I love your wrinkles.” He leans forwards and kisses my forehead, the corners of my eyes and mouth. “Wisdom lines.”
I push him away. “I’m too young to be wise and too ugly to be pretty.”
His shoulders slump. “I wish, just once, you would just say ‘thanks’ when I tell you how I feel about you. I can’t get enough of looking at you.”
“But with girls like Olivia Wilde and Scarlet Johansson in the world, how can I believe you when you say I’m pretty? I have pimply, wrinkled skin. Cellulite. Drooping boobs-“
“Yes. But you are real.”
“Real?” I push my hair behind my ears.
“Real.” He steps closer and frames my face with his hands. “Like the Velveteen Rabbit whose fur has been loved off, and who is loose in the joints, but the Rabbit doesn’t care because it has been worth it. You are no plastic facsimile of a stereotype person. You live and breathe and bleed and feel. You laugh with your whole body. You smile with your whole face. And if time and tide has taken its toll and the smiles freeze into your skin, I love each little wrinkle all the more for it.”
He traces his thumb from my nose down to the corner of my mouth. “I should write a sonnet about this line. And publish it anonymously or as a lost John Keats poem. Maybe then you will believe me.”