He opened his eyes in the silence, and held his breath, waiting for the sound of hers, but nothing passed her lips. He longed to put his ear to her mouth but dared not move, so he dared not breathe lest she breathe with him and he miss her breath. He stretched his hearing so far that he could hear the grass squealing like fingernails across a chalkboard as it grew from the dirt around them.
His head started to throb. His lungs threatened to betray him. And suddenly he felt the words drop from her lips like pebbles thrown into a pond...
"I love you."
A deep cold like a frozen river crept from the pit of his stomach and sank icicles into his heart. He let the frantic breath in his lungs escape in a long, slow release that burned from his chest up through his throat.
Her words lay like cold stones in his mind, leaving heavy indentations on the black velvet doubts that embraced him so tightly during the night. Dark doubts that guided his hands as he consummated his last passion in the dim light of the bedroom where her muffled moans reverberated from the bare cracked plaster walls. He remembered his will, hard as a thick oak branch, the firm crush of his entire body behind it—
once—and her careening screech of surprise—
twice—and the soft strangled gasp that fluttered from her throat.
Then the silence of the room as the air settled into a soft blanket of night.
Still her words pressed deeper, pulling the cushion of doubt from around his memory, and he wanted to leap from the stone where they lay, to crawl backwards from her touch. But the memories pressed down on him like a shroud of lead, holding him next to her as another ragged breath slipped slowly from her lips and curled into his ears like a curse.
He had awkwardly danced her into this old sacred place far from the eyes of the world in the dark folds of the night. She slumped over his arm as he coaxed the old black gate to allow them in. She dragged her feet as he cajoled her and whispered in her ear of the cool flat marble bower waiting for her. He pulled her up here beside him where she lay softly still like a doll. And he waited. Listening for one more breath, and one more led to one more, and the night rolled around them until the night rolled out of the way of the morning.
Still, she breathed. She dreamed. She even spoke with the tongue of winter, and her cold stone words sank deeper into his mind.