The inner thought processes of a woman who's unsure she's what he really wants.
She stared at the ceiling unblinkingly, having not slept all night. Beside her, snoring softly was a man she'd known for only six, maybe seven months. They'd never intended to be anything really, no matter how clichéd she knew it sounded. Certainly not together, as a couple; she had never wanted that, and he'd agreed. All they were was sex. Meaningless sex.
They were free to see other people. She had seen other people. It had been a completely non-committal relationship as far as she was concerned. She couldn't be sure that he hadn't seen anyone else; she didn't believe it to be any of her business.
And yet tonight, lying here in his bed for the second time this week, he had said those words. Those three, hugely significant but ultimately irrelevant words. She wasn't even completely sure he'd meant to say it, being half conscious at the time, but still, he'd said it all the same. Powerful words that deserved to accompanied by some kind of romantic gesture, not mumbled pillow-talk.
These were the kind of words women waited to hear, hoped and almost expected to have uttered to them one day in a fairytale moment, and she felt like a tonne of bricks had been dumped haphazardly upon her head. It was almost funny how backward it all seemed.
"I love you." The words bounced around the inside of her mind, echoing mercilessly like some kind of broken record player. She was caught between emotions, unsure of how she should feel, or if she should feel at all. It wasn't so much the fact that she did or didn't care, it was the newly discovered pressure, ordering her to decipher whatever it was going on inside her now.
Was she supposed to feel the same? Was there something wrong with her then, if it turned out that she didn't? He wasn't a bad person, he was great. Anyone would be lucky to end up with a guy like him, and yet she didn't think she felt that kind of luck. Anger seemed to creep in with the dawn's light, and she watched the shadows shift gradually across the carpeted floor.
She felt anger toward the sleeping form beside her, resentment almost, for being able to sleep soundly while she battled with this drama he had set upon her. He'd no right to throw her a line like this, to offer to pull her out from this ocean she found herself drifting in, with no guarantee she wouldn't be left stranded on the closest desert island. To offer hope, with no guarantee he meant it.
She felt anger toward herself mainly though, for even allowing the consideration of hope to enter her mind. Maybe on some deep subconscious level she felt joy, that finally someone wanted her. But did he really want her? Could someone honestly want her, want everything that came with her, the personality, the evasiveness, the baggage? She didn't believe he knew what he was letting himself in for. And when he did, he would surely run a country mile.
And yet somehow, she couldn't bring herself to move. His warm embrace held her steady, stopped the ground from shaking beneath her feet. When they lay here together, and she listened to him sleep, the walls stopped closing in. She felt like she could breathe air, for the first time, every time. It dawned on her that she felt something for him. A smile played momentarily across her lips.
All this over three little words! Three little words that she wanted to hear over again, every day, for a long time. Maybe it was worth the nagging feeling he didn't mean it. Maybe saying it back was all that she needed to do. She willed herself to make the jump, take the leap of faith. What was the worst that could happen? After all, time heals old wounds.
Things seemed to snap into perspective as she decided to tell him she loved him too. The sun appeared to get brighter, as if with the sole intention of waking him before she could back out, and he began to stir. She waited, barely breathing, until he opened his eyes, and stared deep into her own.
Your eyes are the doors into your soul.
And it felt exactly like he could, like he could see her with brand new eyes. She wondered briefly if he had always looked at her that way.
"I love you, too."