by Izzy Rogers
I stretch my arm across the mattress towards him. His moves instinctively so that his hand is there, ready to meet mine.
My legs tuck neatly underneath sharp knees. My chest presses flush against his shoulder blades. It feels so right, slotting in like Lego. And in this position he sleeps, while I think and dream. When I am restless in the morning he asks how I slept, and I tell him soundly, and long, and that I fell fast.
In my dreams, he is lost and I cannot reach him. So when I realise, finally, that he is by my side I hold him tightly, overwhelmed by relief: the sweetest sugar hit – ten packets of Skittles. The gratitude floods through my body like an overflowing beer glass and my mouth follows the spill down his spine. Anything physical to dissipate the fear and exhaustion that is too much. Everything is too much.
It’s all been so heavy lately. Jokes full of first-time anxiety turned to furious early-morning spats, regretful misunderstandings. Tears spill clumsily across the sheets as I turn away from him. Never cry while naked. Disbelief. Erratic moods. Plans quickly curtailed, as if they were never uttered.
When there is no future, there is no magic; there is nothing that binds you together. The now isn’t enough – it’s a quick fix, a takeaway dinner. There is no family china, no history to build on. No intertwining. We reach across the divide, fingers locked, each hoping we can tug the other to our side. We imagine our lives how we live them now, other person in tow. But the space between us is too vast and we see it. So, for now, we lie face to face under two duvets, as snow coats the streets on the other side of dirty windows.
“The space between us is too vast and we see it. So, for now, we lie face to face under two duvets, as snow coats the streets on the other side of dirty windows.”
Without dates and friends and plans, we exist in a vacuum. In 2am taxis and misremembered whispers. When I turn the key in his door he has forgotten I’m coming. But we know what happens next, punctuated by glugs of cold water from the same glass, and Mars bars, and tobacco. We make the rest of life insignificant. I like things messy and uncertain; addicted to the hope and let-downs. I am so scared of losing him the loudest voice in my head repeats, ‘Please don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.’ I stare at his bare shoulders wishing I could speak it. I cannot wake up alone in tidy flats: I need his disarray, his impulsiveness, hasty dinners and piles of laundry. Energetic nights and breakfasts out. It is everything I am not.
I want his shiny life: party-hard friends with mystery day jobs. I want secret gardens and all the things we said we’d do. As winter stretches far into spring, I can’t let ago. The seasons don’t want me to. I am frozen and the words that should spill freely from my mouth are stuck coarsely at the throat. So I softly close my lips and trace my well-etched line down his back.
He smells like cappuccino. I drink it in, in full breaths down to the bottom of my lungs. I’m high on it. But bodies are not enough. We are made to be wanted with every inch of our beings: that is what we strive for. He kisses the nape of my neck and I dissolve into the now. Because we don’t know what the future holds.