Romance Fiction

Gemma stared up at the crack in the ceiling. If she squinted and tilted her head back into her pillow, she could trace it from the edge of the room above her all the way to the light fixture before the darkness absorbed its tail. Barely visible cracks covered the whole ceiling, but this was the most obvious one at night. It gaped down at her, threatening to bring the whole house crumbling down. Perhaps this is how her mother saw Gemma’s relationship. Or perhaps her whole life.

Hamish was lying just out of reach, facing the door. Her pinkie was a hair's breadth away from his back, but the distance felt cavernous. Insurmountable.

She swallowed back a sigh. Would he wake if she let it out? Part of her longed for him to turn towards her, but their earlier argument echoed around her head. She had regurgitated so many horrible mistruths from her mother’s mouth that evening, not believing a single one. And yet, what else was she supposed to believe? Her mother had been such a powerful force since her childhood; Gemma wasn’t allowed to have different opinions when she was younger. Now daring to think differently, frightened her. Hamish believed she should be strong enough to stick by her own opinions, against the weight of her mother’s words.

They had gone to bed angry and he had fallen asleep facing resolutely away from her. So she lay frozen in the dark, wishing the silence would break and dreading its absence.

When she could stand it no longer, a car swooshed under their window, disturbing the night. Using the noise to camouflage her movement, she wiggled out from under the thick duvet. But the car was gone before she could escape the bed entirely. She waited, her left side hanging out the bed, stilling her breath to better hear Hamish’s. Deep huffs of air remained steady. She counted twenty before slithering the rest of the way out. Standing up, blood rushed to her head and she stumbled slightly. Catching herself before she hit the bedside table, she listened to the silence broken by her harsh breaths. No shifting of covers alerted her to Hamish’s waking and she relaxed painfully tense muscles. 

The night was cold and smelt of coming snow. Tiptoeing to where she had thrown a dressing gown over a chair, she dragged it on slowly, holding the sleeves taut to prevent rustling. The way around the bed to the door felt like miles. Did she dare to attempt that empty stretch?

But she could read her book on the sofa. She’d feel better after that.

Plan in place, she ignored the cold seeping into her fingers. The worn carpet did nothing to insulate the floor in winter and putting on her slippers would make too much noise. She ignored the numbness spreading up her feet and calves. She couldn’t feel any more miserable after all. The dark was so thick that she had to run a hand down the wall to know where to go. Hamish snorted in his sleep and turned onto his back. She froze, waiting for his breathing to even out before talking the last few steps.

Reaching for the door, she stepped over the creaky floorboard, relieved when no sound came as she shifted her weight. She closed her hand over the door handle and pushed it down gently.

The silence shattered. The latch screeched, grinding against the metal casing. She cursed under her breath as Hamish stirred behind her. Why hadn’t she oiled this yet? Another way she had failed.

Hamish groaned, blinking his eyes into focus. They settled on her still form, hand poised to jerk the door open. A robber in her own house.

“Where’re you going,” he mumbled.

“To the other room. Couldn’t sleep.”

Hamish groaned again, uncurling from sleep and stretching his hands toward her. “Come here.”

Gemma hesitated, clutching at the cold metal handle. Shouldn’t he still be angry? Why was he offering a hug when she was at fault for their awful evening.

She desperately wanted a hug.

Hamish mumbled something unintelligible and sat up sleepily, pulling back the covers. “Come here, love.”

She flew across the room, into his arms. His smile sparkled in the dark as he caught her. He tucked the covers around her, letting her hook icy feet around his warm leg without complaint. She pushed her nose into the crook of his neck, taking a deep breath of the smell of home. As he lay back, he pulled her further into the bed until they were curled together in the centre.

“I’m really sorry I yelled.”

Gemma closed her eyes tightly, wishing she could get her throat to work so she could reply. She was sorry too. More so because she hadn’t believed the side she had taken.

“You need to stop letting your mum dictate how you live.”

“I know.” Her voice cracked and she swallowed to clear her throat. “But it's hard.”

Hamish kissed her forehead. She smiled slightly as his beard tickled. “It is hard, but you are stronger than you think. You are allowed to make your own choices.”

She nodded into his chest, wishing she could sink into him. She’d be safe there, without her mother nitpicking at every aspect of her life.

“I really love you, you know,” he whispered into her hair. “I don’t know what I’d do without you. Please don’t let your mum convince you to leave me.”

Gemma nodded again, squeezing her arms around his broad chest. “I love you too. Lots and lots.”

Hamish cuddled her closer, cradling her with strong arms. He lasted a whole fifteen minutes longer before overheating.

“Too hot,” he grumbled and flopped onto his back, holding her protectively into his side. Warmth spread from her heart to warm her fingers and toes. Snuggling closer, she sighed deeply in contentment. Hamish’s arm tightened around her.

“We need to fix that crack in the ceiling,” he said.

February 19, 2021 11:15

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R. K.
16:30 Feb 23, 2021

This made me smile, I loved it!


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D. Owen
16:44 Feb 19, 2021

I love happy endings.


Emily Trucco
16:32 Feb 22, 2021

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!


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Emily Trucco
16:32 Feb 22, 2021

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!


D. Owen
18:43 Feb 22, 2021

I liked how your story began and ended with the crack in the ceiling and how you titled the piece cracked hearts.


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