She sleeps against him, with her young secrets pulsating through her heart hardened by trauma, weakened by fear, doubled by the chemicals that swims through her senses, decorating the lining of her nostrils in barely visible halos; the only proof that it exists within her are the red scratches on her cheek, ones she unconsciously digs with her nails in the early hours of the morning.
There isn’t a tale he knows from her past that isn’t embellished or hidden; everything she tells him is a re-telling of truth, another version of another story she is too afraid to divulge. Once he felt her wake up in what he thought was terror, and asked if she was okay – except it wasn’t fear that opened her eyes, it was guilt, but there was no way of knowing.
Last night, they stood in front of each other inside the elevator, their reflection on the mirrored ceiling conveying polar opposites, despite the fact that both their sweaty palms gripped the silver railings, their fists clenched, their backs hunched, their legs tightly wound against the other, the distance between them like a chasm they cannot cross, silence muted by meaningless conversation.
Once she walked down the stairs from his apartment building and held her coat tightly against her in the cold December morning, smiling at the way he discreetly held her against him all night, softly breathing, and could not understand whether he was the mirror that focused her past, or the heavy smoke that annihilated it.
It is within those early hours in the morning, before the waking of the sun, before his offerings of honest conversations, their only common ground for intimacy and desire, before his eyes open and he leaves the bed to fill her glass with water, does she lay against him, silently, slowly becoming the woman she had always wanted to be at 5 am, that frigid January morning.