The End of Laughter & Soft Lies
She knocked softly on the door and opened it
without waiting for an answer. As often as not, silence was the only
reply, but she always knocked anyway. She stood inside the dim room,
searching for him. She spotted his shape in a corner and familiar
flutters played in her stomach. He was brooding again but she smiled
because he was there and went toward him. He looked up, a blank stare at
first, and then let a smile soften his gaze as he recognized her. He did
not rise, so she leaned down to hug him.
“I missed you.” She spoke softly, the way one might speak to a shy child or frightened animal. She feared her own secrets might escape if she spoke louder, and the space between them was already so wide. She met his eyes, the color of sky, and measured the distance. She leaped across it with a kiss. For a moment, the space was gone in the joy of his taste.
He kissed her deeply, savoring the moment. It was all he could give her and he knew one day it might not be enough. Although she continued to knock, her visits had begun to taper off. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her close as a flame of grief licked at him. It would pass, he knew, but the flash of pain was no less for the knowing.
She felt his embrace tighten around her and leaned into it. A moment of safety and hope warmed her. When he released her, she smiled up at him. Was it strength or a weakness that she could forgive him nearly anything and keep drinking hope from some bottomless well? She decided to ignore the question and enjoy the moment. She laid her head back down against his chest and listened to the rapid beating of his heart. When he spoke, she felt his voice rumble from inside him against her cheek. All the things she thought she wanted to say slipped away in a fog. Her hands began to shake as her body fought to take over where words failed.
She lay still against his chest but he could feel her body taut against his as he spoke. Her hand was hot against his skin, and he felt the tremor in it as she stroked it lightly along his neck and over his shoulder. He felt the heat from her touch spread through him as she woke a place inside him that had slept for too long. Hunger flared up in him and he had to have her. Everywhere she touched him, the simple nearness of her, rippled through his body in waves of longing. She did it without trying. He accepted it without question. He shifted and reached for her face. The kiss was hard and fierce. She tasted sweet against his tongue. The sensation of her fingernails tracing down his arm was exquisite. He was acutely conscious of the pressure of her body against his. Her laugh fluttered against his neck and he looked into the mischievous demon that lived in her eyes.
She searched for his voice beyond her own breath, which raced from her with every stroke they shared. She dug her fingers into his back and held on, letting the sound add fuel to the fire he lit inside her. She savored each sensation with every sense sharply awake. The heat of his harsh breath against her throat. The way the sound called belated shudders from within her. The weight of his body atop her, gone slack with relief and satisfaction. She was content to lie there under his warmth until all the fire in her blood had sunk to a gentle sunset. She dozed a little, his now steady breath hypnotic as he drifted to sleep.
She moved softly, careful not to disturb him. She stood watching him sleep for a moment. Lines on his face hinted at the reasons behind his bouts of solitude, but gave up none of his secrets. She gathered her clothes and dressed, gazing at her surroundings. Once her dress hung again from her shoulders, no hint of her remained in this place. She saw things she knew: echoes of other friendships, another life, fragments gleaned from years of seeking, and listening. The familiar pang stabbed inside her, a mockery of laughter and soft lies. She kissed his cheek softly. At least the laughter was real.
She stepped into the night, closing the door behind her. A flame of grief licked at her. It would pass, she knew, but the flash of pain was no less for the knowing.
This is the end, Beautiful friend