Harsh breaths drag across the hairs at the back of your neck. You curl inwards and feign sleep, and wonder when the fog in your head will clear, when the morning will come.

You press your cheek against a shoulder blade, a mass of limbs and blankets and pillows. You feel a smile curve slowly against your forehead and you smile in turn, because it’s warm and sweaty and your arm is falling asleep and you have nowhere else you’d rather be.

You stare at the tight muscles of their back, the way they seem to shield themselves. Your hand hovers over vulnerable knots that you cannot soothe. You stop short, in the dark.

“Stay,” the word remains unspoken, but is just as tangible—you laughingly offer excuses instead, like inconvenient bus schedules and the pleasant fatigue in your bones but they all mean the same thing anyway. Stay. The morning is bright and your fingers entwine over the covers.

The night is long and the bed is narrow and you think, against the rhythmic intake and exhale of breath like a ticking clock, you’ve never felt a chasm of disconnect like this.

You roll around and disrupt the bedspread and laugh and poke their stomach. “What am I going to do with you?” Exasperation. Amusement. The morning is long and holds a thousand promises.

You gather your clothes, stepping around an unfamiliar obstacle course of things belonging to someone else, where shadows cast long over the floor. You are out of place. You wonder, will you leave any trace of yourself when you are gone?

Your voices are a cacophony of dreams and plans and idle thoughts. What would you like to do next? Your legs entwine—choreography—against the pillows and you’re learning them in all these ways.

You close the door, a soft click quickly engulfed by silence.

You open the door. Together. The daylight glows.

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Melisa Puthenmadom

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