archives, fiction

Awake and Falling. {fiction}

I couldn’t sleep that night.

It was late by the time we went to bed and the wine had seeped into our bones. She had been very precise introducing me to her vulnerabilities. This is my side and you’ll sleep here. Do you like a certain number of pillows? Soft or firm? I laughed, not at her but her chivalry.

She went into her nightly routine, brushing her teeth and washing the day away and changing away from my curious eyes. I followed her, displaying modesty I knew I didn’t have. When I came out of the bathroom, she had made herself comfortable under the blankets. Her long golden hair was pulled over one shoulder and her glasses were falling down her nose.

The lights had been turned down and she smiled at me in the TV’s glow. I grinned back and crawled in beside her.

I pressed my face against her pillow and breathed her in. She was explaining the plot of a new TV series and I feel asleep to her voice. I just couldn’t stay asleep.

There was something about being in her bed and the kitten that couldn’t settle into her new home. Her curiosity got the better of her and she couldn’t stop exploring. Rather than snuggle up to her new owner, she had found comfort curling up next to my stomach or between the two of us. Unknowingly, the kitten had brought us together and kept us further apart.

The only thing I wanted was to touch her, to close the proximity and brush the skin I had never touched. I lay awake often throughout the night, aware of her breathing and even more so that she was responding to me. If I moved, her body replied. I didn’t want to wake her or get too close. I thought I was being careful.

A few years ago, I remembered her telling me she wasn’t too fond of cuddling. It made her feel hot and confined. I was too nervous to ask if that applied to me.

I tossed and turned all night long, allowing her space and letting the kitten find a place to cuddle. Every so often I touched her arm or hand or stomach to let her know I was there. So I would know she was there. After that moment of assurance, I slept. I could feel every heartbeat in my chest.

My heart knew what it wanted and thudded against my ribcage to let me know. I knew it too, but goddamned the nerves in my blood.

Outside the sky was beginning to turn grey with the first light of day. It was late into the night and early into the morning. I remember turning over, comfortable under the quilt her mother made for her. Warm and content. I hadn’t known she was awake, but she reached over and brushed a gentle hand through my curls and over my shoulder. Her hand rested there for a few moments. I wanted it there forever.

Had she placed her hand lower, between my shoulder blades, she would have felt that I was awake as she was. But I relished, silently.

I wanted to know what she was thinking. If she was thinking, too, of our past and this beating in her chest. If she couldn’t stop thinking of me in her bed.

Then there was the next moment and her hand was gone. My body ached from the sudden loss, as if it were only imagined. But my pulse continued to race even as I fell asleep.

When I awoke, the sunshine peaked through the blinds, giving her room a morning glow. My eyes had barely opened, but I knew she was already awake and watching me. Her face was soft and she was contemplating something, I did not need to see to know that. Her fingers touched my arm, grazing my skin until her hand rested in mine. My breath caught in my chest.

I didn’t smile, I only inched closer to her and rested my head on her shoulder.

She was taking this moment for herself before giving it to me. She was mine. I was hers. It was all so simple then.

I knew I loved her then as I had loved her always, with every part of me that did not already belong to her.


Danika Peterson is a native Nevadan figuring out life in San Francisco. She is a freelance writer and technology guru working towards becoming a published author. To keep the dream alive, she keeps a muse in her bed and inspiration in her back pocket.


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