I throw the flimsy sheets from my body and flop over, eyes straining for my dimly lit phone charging beside my bed.
I climb out of bed with a sigh and shuffle on some clothes, snag my keys and escape into the night. I rub the chill-bumps from my arms as I stride through the darkness and sit inside the silence of my car.
Tonight, the world rests; I shake my head at the thought. Even now, bubbles build within my veins, climbing upward, choking —
His voice startles, comforts me. I look right and find him in the passenger seat. Faintly smiling.
“Oh,” I say, scratching a non-itch at my neck. “Didn’t hear you come in.” I turn my head and stare out the blank window.
“How are you doing?” he asks.
Immobility storms my mind, straps me in my seat. I expect him to prod, to ask again as if I didn’t hear the first time. But he doesn’t. He only sits and waits amid the maddening silence.
“I…don’t know.” It’s all I can muster, all I know to say. I don’t know; I just don’t know anymore. I stare down at my lap, fingers fidgeting, waiting for his voice. Desperate for his voice.
His hand stretches for my shoulder. Penetrating warmth; cooling peace. He awaits my flitting eyes to find his amid the gray. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know,” I whimper, my pathetic repetitive answer cowering my eyes down to my bare feet. But his hand presses harder, beckons my gaze to match his once again.
I close my eyes and gulp cold air. This is ridiculous, I know. Makes no sense. Why do I feel this way? What do I feel? I don’t even know myself, so how could I possibly explain it to —
“Hey,” he says, “start somewhere. Anywhere. Start with me. How do you feel about me right now?” My heart staggers, but he persists. “Just talk to me.”
Without thinking I blurt, “I don’t understand you.” A lingering moment of fear, and then his reaction.
“What do you mean?”
I recoil in the driver’s seat and draw closer to the window, pressing my cheek against the cold smooth glass, eyes scouring the darkness beyond. My heart races like prickling needles in a sleeping foot. “I don’t understand why…why you’re only here now.”
A beat. “Is that all?”
What does he mean? Does he ask if I have more to say or does he trivialize what I’d just uttered? My earlier assertion is confirmed: I don’t understand him. My head spins against the glass and I again shut my eyes to still my soul.
“So,” he says, further nuzzling my shoulder with an unrelenting hand, “you only think I’m here. Now.”
I nod weakly against the glass. A desperate tear trickles down my cheek and along the window. With a throaty strain I whisper, “I’m so tired. I just want to sleep.”
His soft, steady breathing persists in the seat beside me and he holds my shoulder for ten, twenty minutes. Weariness strikes my eyes and my heart rate slows.
My skin rattles with a shiver; I can’t stay out here all night.
I pull the handle and slide out of the car, not bothering to lock the door shut behind me. Not bothering to look back, knowing that once again, he is gone.