The Calm Before

A night takes a turn for the worse and my fingers find the buttons. He picks up after the third ring.

“Hello?”

“Hey.”

“Hey, you.”

“Can I come over?”

“Now? Sure. Is everything okay?”

“Uh, yeah. Bad night. I think I need to be held.”

“I can do that. I’ll leave the door unlocked.”

I do my best thinking while walking. I relax into the rhythm of steps, like breathing, my thoughts follow the rise and fall of my chest. As though with each lungful exhaled I rid myself of one more negative thought. One more mistake.

When I get there his door is ajar. Tiptoeing up the stairs I make it to the landing until the vodka sends me sideways and my flailing hand finds a picture on the wall, sending it crashing back down the stairs.

His face appears around the corner and I only have a second to register his tousled hair, the boxers, a worried look and then a smile before I am the sheepish little girl again, hiding my mess, perfecting the puppy dog eyes.

“I broke it…”

“No, it’s fine.”

He hangs it back on the wall, righted. I say I’m sorry but immediately want to smack it down again. Give me something to bruise, I think. Let me leave a mark.

I fall asleep in his arms. That’s the easy part.

The hard part is waking up with my contacts glued to my eyes. The hard part is the walk home, the memories that crowd my mind, all my setbacks. The hard part is needing to get out as fast as possible, racing the sun, before we wake up together. Before we eat breakfast.

Before I start to get used to him.

Fool me once, shame on me. Or however the saying goes.

Later, behind the safety of a screen I tell him I’m sorry I smashed up his house.

“It’s okay,” he says. “It’s how I know you were here.”

I smile. Close my computer. Look outside and watch the skies darken.

A storm’s coming.

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