There was an odd sense of tension between Gabrielle and I for the next few weeks. It was like as if we shared a secret that, if spoken aloud, would condemn us. If we ever exchanged any words between ourselves it would be for in the morning and evening greetings, calls, and schedule updates.
It was a late night near the end of April when I saw Michael standing outside of my front door. I was walking in heels after my bus had dropped me off, and my light Spring jacket rhythmically bounced off of my bag as I quickly walked down the dark sidewalk. When I had first seen him waiting I had slowed my pace. He hadn't noticed me and I could leave him waiting there forever, but I knew I couldn't do that. I gently gave my mind a pep talk and swallowed a giant breath.
He heard me before he saw me and I immediately saw his back relax under his coat. I felt my heart beat irregularly as he slowly turned around and stared at me. His eyes were shadows on my porch, but his smile was small and forgiving.
I bit my lower lip.
His cheeks were slightly red from the unknown amount of time that he had been waiting and his long, thin neck was loosely covered by a burgundy scarf. His hands were in his pockets and his stance was powerful, final on the wooden planks of my porch.
I must have been quite the sight to my neighbors, standing there waiting for something to happen. I could feel the heat that had arisen the first time that I had met Michael come back into my heart. I quietly took one step onto the wooden stairs and allowed my other foot to follow. Several repeats of this tiring action led me until I was in front of him. His hair appeared just as rough as it had always been and the tiny freckle under his left eye remained as well, as if awaiting my return.
He kissed me first.
It wasn't a hungry kiss, or the type that makes you swoon until you forget all else. It was an honest kiss. It didn't lie and tell me that everything would be okay; that tomorrow everything would be different. He spoke his words through my lips, making my brain hurt with the knowledge, but making my heart paralyze my mind in a fearless fight to enjoy the moment. He was here and he wouldn't leave. Until tomorrow. Or later tonight.
In an instant my arms were around him and he had picked me up gently into his arms. The tickle of our breath merged together to radiate our own heat and my hair came loose from its wide clip, falling down in waves of tightly curled hair. I could feel the stubble around his mouth burning scars onto my lips and his hair stuck naturally to my fingers. I heard him close the front door and toss my bag and jacket aside. I felt his grip tighten on me as he took me one step at a time up the stairs. We fell on my bed, his mouth on my ear.
"I missed you." He whispered.
"You shouldn't be here." I spoke without any meaning.
"I know." He continued to kiss my neck while muffling out several words. "But...couldn't...forget...needed...you."
I closed my eyes and brought him closer to me with my arms, forging our souls together. "This can't happen again."
I knew I would kick myself later for saying these words, but at the moment I didn't mean any of them. I let my heart speak instead of my brain and I knew that this would be my ultimate downfall.
"I know." He continued. He had gently lifted my shirt to reveal my belly button and he kissed it softly. "This will be our last night, I promise."
Sadness and reality intermingled and fell upon me. I could feel the prickle of tears forming in the corner of my eyes and I nodded. I knew that this could not be repeated, this was our last night, our last love filled fantasy. He rose up to my mouth and pecked it gently, barely touching my lips. I shivered softly as he took off his shirt, the image of the line of hair leading down towards his pants forced me to take mental pictures of what I saw. Soft flakes of grayish, blond hair kissed his chest and muscles rippled as he leaned down to kiss me once more.
After all of this, my reality became opaque--blackness covered my eyes as I let the world that I had once abandoned take me over once more.