“The first time I met my lover was through the scope of a sniper rifle. He was the target. His assassination, my mission. Before then I had only seen photographs in briefings and all had failed to capture the kindness resting in his eyes. As I awaited the order, there was this moment where he seemed to look directly at me. Of course he couldn’t actually see me. I was half a click from the embassy gillysuited atop an old roof. But it was as if he knew I was there. Like he had been searching, not for an enemy, but for me specifically. And I felt found. When the voice came over the sat-com asking if I ‘had the shot,’ I lied. I requested permission to make an attempt on his life at an upcoming gala, in absence of the clean shot. Permission was granted. Leading to the event I spent every moment studying him, admittedly, trying to find anything that would convince me his expiry was earned. Yet it seemed his only crime was being born to the wrong side of a proxy war. At the gala, alone with my doubts, I heard a ‘hello?’ It was him. He said ‘you’ve been staring at me tonight. Why?’ My mouth pasted. He said ‘perhaps a drink would refresh your memory?’ I agreed. We spent the entire party in conversation. He was remarkably candid, speaking at length of his disdain for his father’s regime and how he desired to go to The 6 and see a Drake. The next morning I trembled in his suite’s washroom with an open bottle of his mouthwash and a lethal dose of cyanide. Then like an idiot, I flushed it. The following weeks bred a cycle of lying to my superiors and sneaking into my target’s quarters. Being seen together meant death for us both. One morning I received orders to keep clear of the embassy as it was to be taken in a military coup. The target refused to believe it when I told him. And when I confessed I had the intel because it had been my mission to kill him, he hung up on me... I left voicemails even as gunfire pin-cushioned his residence and it burnt to the ground. His death went unconfirmed. Part of me still hopes I’ll run into him. If only for one photo with that kindness to his eyes. The others from the briefing made him look like a tool.”
“I was once in a love dodecahedron. It’s like a love triangle, but way harder to keep track of everyone. No for real, like, I had to buy a cork board, pushpins and string just to make sense of my private life. Friends would come over and literally be all ‘ummmmm so which cold case are you solving?’ And really, I’d just be trying to pick who to bring to my niece’s birthday. It was… ugh, like, okay, for instance if I went too long without addressing my ‘roster of suitors,’ suddenly it was boombox orchestras outside or charmers by the door wrestling cue cards for front of the deck. The jealousy! At first I thought, k, if I keep an even supply of bad boys and ‘well-intentioned likeables in a story arc to find their confidence,’ then all their efforts will cancel out. But some of the jerks began seeing the error of their ways ya know, showing, like, character growth? Whereas some of the ‘likeables’ ended up turning into obsessive creeps. It got to the point where if I was ‘curving someone,’ I literally meant that’s what I was grading them on to be fair. I had to carry around a TI-83 for Christ’s sake! Then of course there were my own crushes and competition to deal with. You know what 'The Bachelor' looks like when cameras aren’t pointed at the women the whole time? Let me tell you, it gets sadistic. The roses at the end of the night are just clumps of blood soaked hair and scalp. Was friggin tough man. Every other damn week I’d find myself back at square one. Until one day I sit down to do the math right... and I realize, I’m doing actual math! So it hits me, maybe I’ve just been conditioned by, I dunno, culture?- to believe my love life needed complication to deserve a storybook ending. And I’m like, okay, wait, at the end of the day love is a feeling right?- not some calculation. If it’s real, it shouldn’t require Cartesian Geometry. And if I keep treating my relationships like equations, best I can hope for is to get carried over and still face subtraction. Long story summed, I’m in a muuuch more manageable love rhombus now. Sure, it’s not a total 180°, but when you have to start over again, square one is gonna have a few kinks either way."