by Brianna Woolsey
She sits on the floor between his legs, facing away from him. From the couch, above her, his large hands spread over her back, tracing the curve of her spine, her shoulder blades, her clavicle. He applies soft pressure and she feels herself collapse slightly, her body moving away from the floor and in to him. The ashtray on the table beside them holds two forgotten cigarettes. Both sets of hands are busy. His seeking, healing; hers clenching, twisting as she resists the urge to turn around, to cover his mouth with hers, fill his hands with her breasts. She feels his lips brush against her neck as he leans towards her, murmuring something about tension. She reaches for her cigarette, finds only its charred remains. Takes his instead, draws it to her lips and breathes in, tasting him and the smoke and feeling them both burn her throat. She exhales.
His hands catch against the chain of her necklace, pinching her skin. She yelps, he mumbles an apology. She stands and walks to the window. Rain beats against the glass in sheets, the only sound in the room until she hears him rise from the couch, stopping just behind her. Her hands press against the glass and she can feel the cold through it. She can hear him breathing softly. She wills him to touch her, to put his hands on her shoulders, her hips. He doesn’t move. Her knees start to tremble. Her throat burns with all the words she wants to say.
“You should go,” she says, finally. He steps away; she can see him slouch in the window’s reflection.
“Tomorrow,” he says, his voice flat. “Are we still—”
“No,” she says.
He doesn’t reply. She leans against the window, against the cold wet pane. He stands only feet away, making no motion to move. She is acutely aware of his presence; the space between them feels electric. She remembers the first time they walked together—a casual brush sent her reeling. She remembers the gentle kiss, more like a breath against her skin than actual pressure. The kiss that forced her to her knees as soon as she was alone.
She closes her eyes and she is lying on a made hotel bed, laughing and crying all at once. He is there beside her, laughing as his fingers trace her skin, memorizing the outline of her body.
He still hasn’t moved.
All the words they haven’t said fill the spaces between them. She turns around and looks him in the eyes, willing him to be the one to speak first. He moves towards her and her breath catches, her back arches, and her lips part. All of it instinctive, familiar. She looks away, righting herself. He pauses, his expression hardening. He turns in a fluid movement towards the couch. He picks up his discarded jacket without a word and slips on his shoes without looking at them. She cannot watch as he opens the door, and without hesitation, walks out.
The door clicks shut behind him and she walks over, locking it. Whether it is to keep him from returning, or to keep herself from running after him, she can’t say. A sharp, bitter regret hits as the lock falls in place, and she clutches at the doorknob to keep from falling sideways. A sob punctuates the soft rhythm of the rainfall, just once. And then silence. She does not cry.
She composes herself and walks back to the couch. The place where he had been sitting has already cooled, the cigarette stubbed out. She picks it up and reaches for her lighter, noticing the matchbook. The one he always seems to have with him, from some local dive he loves, fallen from his jacket pocket. She lights one of the matches and holds it to the cigarette in her mouth. It still tastes like him.
Headlights arc across the room, illuminating her world momentarily. Her thumb traces the matchbook, noting the worn corners. She imagines him doing the same thing as she leans back and blows the smoke towards the roof in lazy rings.
She is alone.