I sit in the doorway leading out to the patio, arms splayed out behind me to support my weight and legs stretched outside in the sun. The trees in the garden are tall and they shift ever so slightly in the breeze, casting dancing mottled shadows just beyond my feet. They stretch across the sun-warmed wood and they dance elusively.
I’m sitting there, on the edge of the room and the outside world, when I hear him enter the space behind me.
There is the slightest scrape of the door as it is carefully pushed open, and then closed again. Soft padding of feet across carpet as he makes his way across the room towards me.
I don’t turn.
Gently, he lowers himself to the ground and sits behind me. Without touching me, he threads his long legs under my arms, so that one leg rests to either side of my waist and my arms arch over his thighs.
He remains quiet and the palpable tension is like cushioning between us, irrevocably drawing us together and yet still keeping us each at bay.
We are silent for a long while. I ache to turn to him, to know the emotions etched across his features, to meet his eyes and assess whether he is okay.
But I don’t.
He will come when he is ready.
My entire body is tense, and my muscles are cramped from forcing them not to move towards him. My heart is pounding in my ears and I can barely hear my own breath, I am so fearful of disturbing this tentative and delicate balance between us.
The sun has shifted now, and the dappled shadows of the leaves reach my knees.
He shifts almost imperceptibly behind me and a rogue sigh escapes my parted lips. It is such a quiet sound, almost silent, yet I know that he hears me. I feel, rather than hear, his body move and one hand circles around my waist to draw me closer, pulling me almost roughly against him. His forehead connects with the base of my neck, and he rests there, and he exhales.
In that moment, we finally draw breath together. The synchronised rise and fall of our chests stirs something within my heart and I find that I cannot speak and nor can I breathe.
Nor do I want to.
I don’t wish to cause any ripple of movement or sound which could disturb this fragile sensation.
He slowly moves closer to me and I feel his presence surrounding me, tenderly, but cautiously. I feel the gentle weight of his chin on my shoulder, the slightest tickle of his breath as it brushes my neck and the few hairs which have escaped my messy bun stir against my skin. I feel his thighs, now pressed solidly and securely against either side of me. I feel the constant weight of his arm around my waist, his radiating warmth slowly emanating through my skin.
Cocooned, I am keenly aware of him.
I stay silent. I stay still.
And he does too.
We are unspeaking and unmoving, but he is now here and he is now with me, and so, we are now okay.