And you look at me, your eyes wide and dark, water-at-night eyes. You pull close to me on the moonlight-white comforter, but your shoulders are still and pinned back, like you’re scared. I hold still so I don’t spook you, and let your hand touch my cheek, your thumb smoothing over my skin as your fingers hold my face. We are shadows touching. Every brush of your hand is loud in the dark.
Then you part your lips. I watch them because I can’t help it. Your breath is too quick, too shallow. You lick your lips. My eyes go back to yours to read what you aren’t saying. And I wait, your thumb still tracing my cheek, warm and leaving a cool path on my skin.
Your eyes lift to mine, quick and unsteady. You ask me, very soft. Why do you love me, Britt? I’m horrible.
And my eyes get very hot. And so does my throat, achy, and tight.
Your eyes go wider, and then I can’t see you clearly. Your hands reach for my face, and you’re shaking your head, and making soft, sorry sounds. My forehead touches your neck, and I burrow there, your skin hot and damp under mine.
And you’re speaking: sorry, sorry Britt, sorry, and I pull both your hands together over my heart and hold them there with one hand, and smooth my other hand tight over your hair at the back of your neck. And I shake my head and press my forehead to yours.
Honey, I say. Honey.
I didn’t mean to make you—
Shaking, I kiss you. Your lips are hot against mine. You would be flushed if I could see your color, and I touch my cool fingers to your cheeks. You are soft and questioning. I try to comb my thoughts for words to give you. In my mind is the dark, beads tangled on strings, bright and beautiful and full of reasons why I love you. Every word or picture that comes to my tongue seems wrong, not enough. When your lips part from mine, your breath is ragged, and I know whatever I tell you you won’t believe.
You’re made of reasons, I tell you, quiet, and lift your face with both hands when you drop your eyes. Don’t be sad, San. I could never tell you all the reasons I love you.
You press a hand to your eyes, so you’re even more in shadow. It keeps us apart.
I love you because you’re purple flowers in a field at twilight. I’m the only one you let find you. I love you because you know my eyes when I’m sad. I love you because your voice makes me shake, and your hand over my heart makes me quick and high-strung as a rabbit. Because we share dreams when we’re sick. Because no one loves my thoughts the way you do. Because you’re mean when you have something to protect.
I want to keep going, but you touch my lips. Do you know why I love you, Britt-Britt?
I nod. I’m yours. I shrug. I’ve always been yours. And I think of something else to tell you. You’re bits of clear, colored stone in my mind. Like in a river. If I reach into the water for a handful of other thoughts, you’re always there. No matter what I think of, you’re mixed in somehow.
You shake your head, but it’s not to say no. You’re the only one who makes sense to me.
I shake my head too, but it really is to say no. I don’t make sense to anyone.
You reach up and dig your fingers into the back of my neck. You cradle my head and kiss me hard. I close my eyes and memorize you. When you draw back—just barely—you breathe, You make sense to me. You’re the only one whose heartbeat matches mine, ever.
And I feel your heartbeat through your thumbs pressed tight against my cheeks. I feel it, and I know it. Fast as a river rushing. Hard as mine, quick as a dream, dawning.