fall into the sheets that are slightly damp with sweaty remnants of the last hour. burrow your face into the crevice between his chin and his collarbone, and wonder if it's true what they say about oxytocin and sex. consider if you will offend him should you move your deadened left arm. close your eyes and focus on the u p d o w n of his chest as he breathes steadily into a soft slumber.
outside, a late night train rumbles past. free your arm as he stirs. let worry set in as the moon arches high in the night sky. recognize the feeling of panic setting in your chest, hear the what-ifs and what-nows creeping into that toxic mind of yours, urging your voice to rise. ask if he's okay. (he says he is.)
talk about superhero powers and read him poetry from the book on your night stand. it's dark in the room but know he's staring at the odd curve of your mouth and the knots cascading through your hair. note the way it makes your skin feel electric against the bedsheets. pull away when he wraps his legs around yours. pull away because you're afraid that if he's touching you he'll hear the apprehension rattling around in your head. feel him reach for your hand.
recall the map of footsteps that led you to the wrong beds of the wrong men time and again. remind yourself that for twenty-six years, pulling has done nothing but isolate you. fight the urge to compare this moment to the hundreds that came before it. you are not a time traveller. this is new and he is different somehow but you can't explain it and shouldn't try.
study the increasingly familiar shape of his body. notice the scar beside his left eye, the long fingers of an artist, the constellation of freckles across his chest, illuminated by the moonlight. hear how his voice pitches and lingers, sticking to the syllables of your name like thick molasses. listen as your heartbeat hastens - the cadence beneath your ribcage a symphony of affection, beating notes of comfortable madness into your busy brain. know that this is real and certain and good.
his fingers settle into the space between yours.