I open my eyes to see your face angled towards mine. My gaze drifts down your body and falls onto the intricate clusters of freckles that glaze you shoulder like spotted-doilies. Your chest rises and falls in unison with my own breath and your arms are tantalisingly close to mine.
I want to be nearer to you so I nuzzle my face into your springy-auburn hair. It smells of cigarettes from the night before. Last night at the party, in between the cigarettes that now linger in your hair, you found me inebriated and hollow on the stairs. When you pretended to care and enquired about the source of my sadness I finally told you the truth that had been bubbling inside me for months. You responded by telling me that you were too tied up to be with me.
What you said now swirls around in my mind as I gingerly move my fingertips towards your torso, careful not to move the sheets that we are now both tied up in.
As I trace the alabaster skin that curves around your rib, I yearn for you to place your hand on top of mine and clasp it around my fingers.
Instead you remain lifeless, except for the trail of air passing in and out of your nose.
I curl my toes against your foot until I feel your navicular bone. Instantly you pull away, just like that time at the cinema when our elbows accidentally met on the armrest and you pulled away.
Feeling unwelcome, I move my body further away from the warmth of yours and resort to tracing the arc of your eyebrows with my eyes. It is in this moment, as you sleep so close to me yet are so unattainable, that I feel it. I feel my heart drop from my chest and an emptiness in my stomach engulfs me like a sinkhole with the realisation that we will never be.
A panic sets in and I want to hold onto you, to this moment.
I want the birds to stop yapping and the sun to delay its light for a little longer. I want to wake you up, kiss you and tell you that, right now—while you’re asleep and cannot hurt me—you are the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen.
I want to make you cups of tea in bed on rainy Sundays, buy you more funny socks to add to your collection and bake you a pumpkin pie. I want to sit up all night, drinking red wine and not fall asleep until we both collapse in a sweaty-giggly mess. I want to bury my face into your chest when I am sad and fall asleep on your shoulder when I’ve had just a bit too much to drink. I want to feel the palm of your hand on the small of my back when we are in public. I want to hold you so close to me that I can feel the vibration of your heartbeat through my own chest.
To put it simply, I want to love you until the last breath expires from my lungs and the last pulse beats through my veins – if you’d only let me.
Instead, I swing my legs out of bed, put my pants back on and wrap the duvet tighter around you like a burrito. Then I take one last look and I walk out the door, across the road and towards a future without you.