“You know you can’t keep doing this right?” He asks me gently, running the ruggedness of his fingertips along my hips. I try to relish in the warmth, but still, I come up short. Still feel cold.
“Keep doing what exactly?” I murmur back, turning slightly to face him on the bed. He looks down at my form, his touch is light, but I can feel the weight of his desire building. Doesn’t it always come back to this? He places his head on my shoulder and breathes in.
“Does this help you?” He asks, not lifting his head, but moving his fingers along my forearm. I smile as goosebumps form, a reminder that this body still feels.
“You have to be more specific, love.” I reply, turning away from him to lie back down. Hoping the soft covers will swallow me and keep me safe from prying eyes, and questions.
“This Sasha, this.” He says with a sudden urgency in his tone, I sigh at the touch of his hands running all over my body now. Today he is insistent on answers.
“Sex, you mean? Does it help with what?” I say slightly impatiently.
“Does it help fill that emptiness you have in you right now.” He replies slowly, as if careful to make sure each word doesn’t pierce the skin he seems to love so much.
“Who says I’m empty?” I move away from his touch, he holds his hand in the air for a moment before putting it back down to rest on the mattress.
“You share your body with me Sasha, you think I can’t tell when something isn’t right with you? You think I don’t notice? I’m not stupid Sash, I know you use me and sex to distract yourself from hi-”
“Enough,” I almost shout, he tenses and sits up, “We don’t talk about that. We don’t talk at all, that was the plan. The agreement.”
“Right.” He says sternly. I chanced a glance at him, and regretted it just as quickly. Small sharp knives feel like they stab at my heart as I look him over. So sullen, suddenly tired. My body aches for a moment, urging me to grab his hand and apologize; but just as quickly as it came the feeling is gone again. Replaced by something cold and void. Some time passes before either of us say anything, and I am grateful for the small reprieve. To not have to think, respond, feel, reciprocate.
“You have to let him go, Sash.” He tries again, persistent indeed. I shake my head and laugh, and feel my eyes heating up with tears. I cough, trying to clear the lump in my throat that seems to have fought its way up from my heart. Full of words and love I no longer want. I shake my head again, breathing a little heavily. My chest feels wrong, feels alien. Feels like there is nothing there but a shrivelled up heart that forces blood throughout my body and reminds me what loneliness is. What emptiness feels like without the one you love.
I feel the heavy weight of a firm hand on my shoulder and almost succumb to its compassion. But inside me is not just a void, but the remnants of anger that wishes to be freed. To destroy everything in its wake so the outside feels like my insides. Though I don’t move away from his touch, I still feel cold, still feel unreachable.
“Liam, please. Let it go.”
“You know I love you, don’t you?
I scoff, swinging my legs off the bed to stand up and walk over to the wooden chair by the window. I use the back of the chair to steady myself. Tightening my hands till they hurt.
“Why does everyone think that’s the be all and end all for things? Been there, done that.” I grab a box of cigarettes and a lighter sitting on the window sill and light it.
“Enough Sash, don’t give me that shit. I know you loved him, I know it hurts. But he left you, you have to face it. I know you just want to feel… Something again. You have to stop burying your hurt in the body of another.”
I stare out the window, the numbness stings my chest. I cough, hoping to jumble my insides around to fill the empty space.
“You know me so well huh?” I glance over at him and watch him look down and smile. Unable to help myself I smile too, it’s always the smile isn’t it?
“I would give you everything if you just let me.” He says quietly.
I close my eyes, the smoke releasing from my lungs, “I would let you, I would give you everything, if I could. I give you what is left of me, but we both know that isn’t enough.”
“You are more than the empty space he left you with.”
“Am I?” I ask too quickly, vulnerable. I can hear him starting to move to get up from the bed, to fill the space between us; but I shake my head no and know he remains on the bed without opening my eyes.
“Yes, you are.” He says stubbornly, so full of love, I almost believe him.
My legs begin to shake, I feel weak and collapse on the chair. The slight coldness on my butt reminds me I’m naked, the body is the only part that’s open. Free to touch and prod. I cross my arms, trying to keep my heart from his prying words and love. Scared, unwilling.
“How do I let anyone in when they don’t fit? Anyone is a mere imitation. Slightly off, enough that I know it’s wrong.” I say.
“It won’t always be wrong Sasha, but you have to let it go instead of letting yourself become this void that just tries to take in anything it can to make you feel something again.”
“What if I can’t?”
“Let go, fill the space. Be okay again.” I look up at him finally, tears in my eyes build and make him look like he’s under water. He smiles softly, moves to the edge of the bed closest to me, and holds out his hand. A lifeline, a second chance; maybe. Slowly I lift my hand and place it in his. He gently pulls me, and I get up from the chair and sit on his lap. He holds me and it feels like a warm blanket is wrapped around me, trying to sink into my skin and fill me with light. He tries to reach for me, not physically, for something more. Something I can’t give him.
“You’re a glutton for punishment Sasha.” He says suddenly, with the hint of a nostalgic smile forming; almost as if he knows this too will be nothing but a memory he’ll have to cherish.
“I could say the same about you,” I shoot back gently, “Same time tomorrow?” I ask, unable to meet his eyes. Testing him, but already knowing his answer.
“Same time.” He responds, and I can almost feel his eyes boring holes into me. He gets up to leave, putting his clothes on and bending down to kiss my forehead. He hesitates for a moment before leaving toward the door. I sit silently for a moment, straining my ears to hear his footsteps going, going, gone.
“It helps love, sometimes. Sometimes, it’s almost enough.” I whisper and lay back down and relish in the way my body relaxes and quiets down for sleep. A moment of peace before the emptiness grabs hold of me again. An old friend, an old lover.