Love Without "Love"

A friend of mine recently posted a challenge on Facebook:

Say “I LOVE YOU” without using any of those three words.

Easy-peasy, right? Not as much as you might think. Finding synonyms or metaphors for “love” isn’t a problem. Situating it within the dyad of me-ness and you-ness without using these words? A teensy bit more challenging.

Nonetheless, am I a romance author, or am I a romance author, amiright? I mean, if I can’t say “I love you” without actually saying it, what kind of romance am I writing? So. Rolling up my sleeves (it’s 95 degrees right now, so I actually just pushed my watch up a little bit), I committed to write down the first 20 “I <3 U” alternatives that fluttered like wee turtledoves into my overheated noggin. You’ll notice I decided to use first-person throughout. And yeah, maybe I cheated a little bit (“Thine?” Really?), but being a romance author also means being a tiny god of the literary world I create. (In other words, I can both cheat and absolve myself. Score!)

Below are my two lists of ten, one more verbal and one more metaphorical. I’d love (Ahem. I mean “would super appreciate”) to hear yours.

  1. My personage cherishes thine.
  2. Treasured stands the person before me.
  3. We choose us/this every day.
  4. My being feels at home right here.
  5. Behold this part of my self that lives outside me.
  6. Adoration spills from my tongue into the space between us.
  7. My soul stumbles into the sunshine of us.
  8. Fierce and sticky like a web, my devotion trembles between us.
  9. My most fervent being encircles the wholeness of this, of us.
  10. Our souls dance.

  1. The ground rumbles in ecstasy beneath us.
  2. [Cheating again, but this is almost a verbatim quote from The Tithe]: “The air trembles around us. We walk through a room together, and atoms collide. Everyone here can feel the greatness of our reverence.
  3. Lucky is the air that flows around those lips and across that tongue.
  4. Do souls exist? Will be float together through eternity like shadows of ourselves? How can we know? All we can know and feel is the painful beauty of now.
  5. Stars shine from those eyes and heat my face.
  6. Every exhalation into my mouth teaches me to breathe.*
  7. This moment dances between us, as heated and mortal as we.
  8. Warm and safe as a down comforter, we snuggle into the comfort of us.
  9. Arms like bars encircle me. Within lies freedom.
  10. [Cheating again, because I can. When Blue describes his love in The Tithe, he uses these words (more or less).]: “Happiness and pain, they’re just degrees of the same thing. It’s like being outside in the sun, and it warms. But having never known what the warmth feels like, it burns, too.

* Truly, I’ve noticed I use a lot of breath-related metaphors when I write. I honestly think this is because I’m asthmatic, and breathing is something I never take for granted.


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