Exhaustion.

She didn’t sit there long. I tried not to shift. Not to move and break the moment. Not to shatter it. I was paralyzed. I couldn’t have moved if I wanted to. My heart beat faster in my chest. I hoped that it didn’t show.

It had been a long time since anyone had been so close to me. I wanted to pull away, but I couldn’t.

Touching humanity. We all need it. We all want it. The proximity of another human being. Another person to hold onto, to believe in ever expanding possibilities with. Someone who would hold your hand reassuringly. Someone who wouldn’t let you stay stuck in worrying. Someone who would teach you to stop and breath. Someone who would remind you that there can be more than you expect.

I didn’t know what I wanted. I wanted everything. I wanted to open my eyes and see her instead of the inside of my eyelids. I wanted to see more than the inside of my own mind. My hands wanted to clasp her.

“Good night,” she said to me. And she rose and the light extinguished and I was in the darkness, alone. Again. To the same spot, in this living room, in this city, in this state, in this world.

The darkness of the night was soothing. I breathed heavily, as though I had been running. I tried to sleep. I closed my eyes. My head rested on a soft throw pillow. It supported my neck enough. I sank into the sofa. It was old, worn in, soft. I slept under a comforter. My toes were could. They couldn’t seem to get warm. I tried tucking them under me. I tried tucking them into the creases of the sofa. They couldn’t seem to get warm.

My blood just was not circulating. It was not going to me feet. Maybe it was a sign. Maybe it meant that I should stay awhile. I thought about that. I thought about how long I would be in this place. I thought about whether this was a good idea, ultimately. I wondered whether Mel was awake.

The feeling came over me that I didn’t know what I was getting into. That I was treading in dangerous waters by being near her. That something was a stake. That I was taking a risk.

Trust is a risk. For those who are generous and for those who accept generosity. There is no knowing what might come next.

I stood up with the blanket wrapped around me and hopped up and down. My feet slowly began to warm up.

“What are you doing?” Mel’s voice.

“Ah– sorry. Did I wake you?”

“I was up. Why were you jumping around? Still cold?” She walked over to space heater that sat against the wall. “You can turn this up. Or move it closer to your feet. I’m sorry you’re cold.”

“No, it’s fine. This is great. I don’t know where else I’d be. You’re already giving me a lot.” I looked her in the eyes and tried to convey my earnestness. She looked back at me with a warmth and with a sadness in her eyes.

“Do you miss her?” She walked closer to me. “That’s a stupid question. Of course you miss her.”

I was silent. My mind told me to say something that would reassure her, that would let her know that I could talk to her, that I was thankful to have someone to talk about it with. I didn’t. I couldn’t I’m not sure what stopped me. I just couldn’t let the placating words out of my mouth. They were stopped up. Stuck. I just couldn’t.

Maybe it was not okay. Maybe I wished that she hadn’t brought up Eve at all. Maybe I was confused by the way she looked at me. Maybe I was threatened by the intensity of her. Maybe I was uncomfortable with all of the kindness she showed me.

Maybe I was just tired. Maybe I just couldn’t accept warmth from another person quite yet. Maybe I just needed sleep.

I could tell there were questions in her eyes. I could tell that she wanted me to talk to her.

I shook my head involuntarily. The kind of shaking that happens when it feels like there’s a thought that needs to get out that refuses to leave. “I should sleep. The heater should be fine now. I’ll be fine now.”

“Are you sure?” More concern in her eyes. I didn’t know what to make of it. I refused to make anything of it.

“Yeah. I’m getting–ah, I’m getting really tired.”

“Oh. Okay. Okay.” She stood. Uncertain. I sat back down on the couch.

“Good night, Mel.”

“Good night, again.”

And she left.

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