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The Dark Hours
She sits. In the grey half-light of encroaching dawn – the time when the imagined melds with memory and the human bleeds into the primal – she considers what is to come. Their meeting was unorthodox. It was accidental. His presence in her life developing without announcement, without fanfare, and without expectation. It simply sparked out of nothing. ‘Creation ex nihilo’ she would call it, and he would poke her about her sexy brain. It began before either had realised, calling each other out before they had formulated the words, even before they were aware of their own desires. Even now, she is left bewildered as to how it unfolded, evolving on its own without pretence; undemanding, self-propelled, and bound to its own agenda. Regardless of how long she had been separated from him by cruel distance, she kept coming back to him, and him to her. Never before in her life had she been so conscious of her helplessness in the face of the unrelenting current of the universe. No matter how many times she tried to turn her thoughts away from him, she kept coming back to the inevitability that her world would never be the same now that he had been in her space, in her arms, in her bed. She knew at least that she would never be satisfied, she would be thrown to the malice of restlessness and discontent, if she could never again be in his.
She frowns. The soft light of pre-dawn is slowly transforming into the harsh cold ambience of a winter sunrise, and her reality descends inexorably and heavy on her soul. She is afraid. Afraid to open herself up to the unlikely, to the unknown. Afraid to entertain the irrational, the hopeful, and the unrealistic. Afraid of being vulnerable, and of everything coming to naught. Afraid of change. Afraid to leap. That’s what he was for her. He was the possibility of a potential reality that she dare not hope for. She had speculated that he could help her become the person she thought she could be, to feel empowered enough to finally give of herself to another, to take hold of herself and exist in the world as ‘her’. It wasn’t that she had lacked the desire to bequeath herself before, to present her talents and be sure of her person. It was rather that she had learned – through both her actions and the actions of others – that she would probably never be in a position to enjoy the right things because the world was full of people who would choose the wrong option, the wrong person, the wrong life. He had the capacity to teach her something different, but she had to capitulate to the possibility of change. It wasn’t some run-of-the-mill ‘I think I’ll have strawberries instead of bananas on my generic brand breakfast wheat bricks’ kind of change either. This for her had rarely proved positive – she always managed to mishandle things and twist her opportunities into pitfalls. He was right, it was a matter of trust. Where he was wrong though, was that it wasn’t a matter of her placing her trust in him, but rather in herself. She worries that she’ll ruin him. He had once told her that he would never again desire to admit another into his inner world. Somehow, through some weird twist of fate, she had found herself at the threshold and was being tentatively invited in. She wanted so badly to reach out and be drawn into the warm, safe essence of ‘him’. But she lacked the certainty of conviction, the unshakeable belief in herself, which would allow her to accept his decision – to trust in her ability to respond to his faith with faithfulness. She had the chance to provide him an alternative to his experience, to teach the teacher, but she doubted her competence to do it right.
She sighs. The burgeoning illumination of sunrise has given way to the harsh light of morning, the world now fully awake. Soon she will be traversing the vast temporal space between them. Her destination will be his long-awaited embrace which, by all accounts, has been strangely empty since he left. She will feel the touch of his skin on hers and taste his lips. She wondered how many people would have been fortunate enough to encounter someone who although so completely different to themselves, seemed to fit so perfectly that it was frightening. Someone who they want so much to know exactly who they are, but to whom they struggle to reveal themselves lest they baulk when they realise their secret truths. Someone who they are so scared of being vulnerable with, yet can’t stomach the thought of forever being safe but without. Someone with whom they yearn so acutely to be, but fight to keep this knowledge from because they know that words have power and can never be unsaid. She warned him of her habitual instinct to overreact and go supernova by herself, he assured her that she wouldn’t be doing it alone. She so wanted to believe him, she secretly suspected that she already did, but she knew that she needed to see it in his face and in the way that he held her before she could fully admit it to herself. Innumerable words could be accounted for in a look, a touch, a kiss.
She smiles. She has come back to the same thought that she always does. He will once again trace his fingers down her spine and play with her hair. She will once again hold her hand to his cheek and rest her head on his chest. In the dark hours, when the distinction between feeling and thought erode, he will hold her in his arms and she will nuzzle her face into his neck. He had once said that ensuring her happiness in turn made him happy. She has come to realise that past all the fear, past all the concern and self-doubt, the matter of her happiness is really quite simple. Right now, all she needed was for him to be near. He would soon be again.