We went down to the kitchen and I patiently waited for my milk. I giggled as he approached, holding a chocolate biscuit, and fed me. He hugged me before giving me the drink, telling me that life expectancy increased if you hugged Rosa Foxtail once daily.
I laughed and told him that statistics showed it was healthier to hug Jack Smith before returning to Ross.
He was sitting up, looking slightly puzzled. I walked over, placed the glass on the bedside table and sat beside him.
"It's okay, Baby," I said. "You can go back to sleep."
Ross folded his arms. "No," he said stubbornly, in a childish tone.
"What d'you mean ‘No'? Oh, are you thirsty?"
Ross shook his head.
"What time is it then?"
"Rosa time." And he pulled me on top of him, thus lying down, and kissed my hair.
I sighed, ceasing to pretend to be a parent.
Ross sighed too, absently stroking my hair.
"That spirit-merging was..." I began.
"Don't," Ross interrupted. "Words fail me. Don't even try."
"Sorry," I mumbled.
"And don't do that either."
I chuckled. "Oka, Ross; what should I do?"
"Content. Warm. Open and loving."
"Okay then," I said. I closed my eyes, snuggling into him, and thought in colour and emotion. Autumnal flares, gentle flames, sunshine, moonlight. Stars. Joy, flicker, love, flicker, bliss.
"There aren't enough words in the English language," I murmured.
"Forget English, there aren't enough words, full stop."
"Semicolon," I said randomly.
Ross laughed. "Exclamation mark."
"Hmm, I'm running out here. Inverted commas."
"Can I say capital letters?"
"You can say whatever you like."
Ross paused. Then he leant in close so that he was almost kissing me and whispered "Ellipsis."
I laughed and could picture the wide grin on his face.
Ross leant back.
"Can I sit up?" I asked.
I pushed against the bed and arranged myself next to Ross, legs folded.
"Comfy?" he asked, gazing up at me in an almost distracting manner.
I looked straight into his eyes. "Yes."
He sat up, leant towards my face but lingered before my lips for a few seconds and whispered "Some day you're going to hypnotise me, Rosa Foxtail. And then I'll never be the same again."
I closed the space between us and kissed him.
"What d'you want to do now?" Ross asked as the kiss ended.
"Is it my turn to choose?"
"I guess but there's no formal rota or anything."
"I know. But I needed to check you were okay with me choosing an activity." I stuck my tongue out at him.
"If you're going to be like that, I'm not okay with it," he retorted.
I laughed, shoving him playfully.
He deliberately fell over. Rolling onto his front, he said "Guess that means you don't want to do anything with me."
I moved to lie on top of him, gazing at the ceiling.
"Well, it's nice to treat you like a lounger."
He chortled. "'Course it is, Rosa."
A thought came to me, floating on the gentle waves of my idleness.
"Weren't you going to tidy my mind?" I asked.
"Nah, it's too messy," I teased.
I shrugged. "Plus, there's no real pleasure in only thinking of you."
"Maybe you should go back to Jack."
"Maybe you're right."
I slid off him and got up off his bed.
"Oh, Rosa," he called, as I began to walk away.
"Yes?" I asked, turning.
"Shut the door on your way out."
I reached the door and closed it, but remained in the bedroom. Slowly I turned around and crept back to the bed. Ross's eyes were closed.
I lightly caressed a few tufts of his hair.
"Ross?" I inquired.
He rolled over and looked up at me.
"Yes?" he asked, sighing contentedly as if it was a joy merely to gaze upon my face.
"You know you love me? Like really love me."
Totally playing with him, I asked "Will you marry me?"
Ross started. "What?"
I turned, pretending to be desolate. "Perhaps not."
He sat up and pulled me back towards him. "'Course I will."
I sat on his lap. "Good." I stuck my tongue out at him.
He leant in and kissed me, spoiling the tease. The kiss was mostly carefree but I sensed Ross's nervousness beneath it.
‘You know I'm joking, right?' I thought, as I held him and stroked his hair.
‘Are you?' he asked seriously.
‘Yeah, 'course. We're so young.'
‘It's true.' But his thoughts were careful as though he thought I was masking pain at the fact he had been startled.
‘Relax, Ross,' I thought soothingly.
‘Did I upset you?' he thought quietly.
‘No, of course not. I was just playing with you, trying to find a way back into your embrace.'
‘There's very little you need to do to achieve that.' His uptight-ness faded. ‘Honestly, Rosa, you could touch my arm and I would kiss you.'
I drew back. "That's gratifying," I said, smiling.
He smiled back. "You're gratifying."
"Will you tidy my mind now?"
Ross grinned. "Yes, darling."
His arms hung loosely around my waist and he gazed intently into my eyes. One of my arms was around his back while the other was free. I gazed back calmly.
I felt him enter my mind, his tendrils of thought a comforting presence amongst my lonely ones.
"Think of me," he murmured.
The image that instantly came to my mind was that of him looking searchingly into my eyes as our fingers had brushed during the positioning of the candles on the cake and we had experienced a psychic connection.
‘I don't like how I was then,' Ross thought, and I felt that he was angry towards himself.
I thought instead about our first kiss.
‘That moment was special,' he thought, seeming a little more tolerant of his past self, ‘but then again, I was taken aback.' He sounded bitter. ‘I was ignorant of love.'
‘Hey,' I thought reproachfully. ‘No one could blame you - you'd never known love.' I sent him a montage of memories I'd seen in his mind when he'd felt and acted younger due to my careless destruction of the walls around his heart the previous autumn: of me constantly ignoring him and preferring Jack.
‘You were a child,' he reminded me. ‘You didn't know what you were doing.'
‘And you were like a child. No one had made you feel special before. How were you to know how to treat me?'
I was slightly smug when he couldn't reply.
The feeling didn't last long, however, because out of the blue came a slightly half-hearted mental push which, despite not having any excitement behind it, rendered me solely capable of processing thoughts involving Ross's amazing-ness.