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It’s the morning after her last night before she leaves and she’s awake. She’s been awake for hours, restless and nervous and excited. She’s sitting up in bed as the light breaks, spilling pink and orange onto the carpet, the bed sheets, his skin. He’s asleep on his stomach, head turned sideways on the pillow, snoring quietly.

She traces the triangle of freckles on his shoulder gently with her fingertips, wondrous at the things about him she’s already got memorized. Every imperfection, every inch of skin. Her finger tips dance across his skin. The sun rises a little more. She leans over, kisses the hypotenuse of his freckle triangle.

‘Mmm,’ he hums, half awake and half asleep. She watches his eyes start to move under their lids as he comes out from under his deep sleep. She smiles wide, biting her lip. She likes him drowsy and uncensored like this, completely himself. She leans over again and brushes her lips against his right eyelid, a ghost of a kiss.

His hand reaches out from under the sheets, blindly finding her thigh. His thumb moves against her skin and she feels warm all over. She presses her leg into his hand and he smiles, eyes still closed.

She slides down a bit, laying down but with her head resting on his bare back, turned towards the foot of the bed. The angle is awkward, but his skin is hot from the morning sun and she can feel every breath. He laughs softly and it thunders through her, becomes a part of her. She feels close to him.

‘You’re leaving me today,’ he says slowly. His voice is full of sleep, dreamlike almost, as if he weren’t speaking directly to her but some apparition of her. As if he could say it and it would be fine, because he would wake up and it wouldn’t be true anyway.

She turns her face, pressing her nose and her mouth into his skin. She breathes in. ‘Yeah, I am.’

‘I know it’s for the best and you have to go, but-’ And then his voice is different. His eyes are open. It isn’t a dream at all and he is very much awake. ‘I wish you weren’t.’

She presses her eyes closed and a tear finds its way out, lands on his skin, rolls down to the small of his back. She watches him flinch at the feeling of it. ‘Me too.’

‘Are you scared?’

She takes her hand and presses her fingers between the notches in his backbone. ‘Yes,’ she says quietly.

They fall silent for a while. Her eyes land on the two bags she packed last night, waiting in the corner by the bedroom door. Then her eyes move to where the white sheet falls across his hips, settling low. Without turning to look at him, she timidly says, ‘Do you want to- I mean, before I go?’

She can feel him craning his neck to look down at the back of her head, at her body curled up against his side. ‘No,’ he says, ‘I kind of just want to be with you like this for a while. If that’s okay.’

She nods, ‘Good, yeah. Me too.’ She shuts her eyes and adds, ‘I love you.’

‘I love you, too,’ he says and she presses her lips to his skin, holds them there for a moment.

unfold is the author of 102 other stories.
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