The floor was cold under my bare feet as I crept down the stairs, listening to the noises that the house was making. The kind of noises it made when it thought everyone was asleep – the hum of the refrigerator, occasional clunks, the creaks as the walls warmed up and cooled down. By all rights, I should have been asleep.
Outside, the night was the impenetrable black that you only ever see in the dead of night, in the middle of winter. My face looked ghostly and pale in the glass of the window as I turned the tap, water sluggishly filling my glass. It was a peculiar feeling – like being disconnected from everything around you. Freefalling.
“Bit late, even for you.” I jumped, when I shouldn’t have. I don’t think you ever slept. “Couldn’t sleep?”
“Couldn’t stop thinking.”
“Ah.” Your shadow moved towards me across the room, and I watched your reflection in the frosty window. “It’s cold.”
“I know.” This was how we worked, this shorthand. For a guy who never shut up, and a girl who never said anything, I suppose it wasn’t unusual.
“Aren’t you cold?”
“I’m not the one who’s half-naked.”
You chuckled, and I turned to look at you. Sweatpants hugging your hips and nothing else.
“Are you allergic to shirts?” I felt compelled to ask.
“I sleep naked. This is dressed up.” You smirked.
My cheeks flushed, and I was so grateful that the dark hid it. Suddenly, I was conscious of my pyjamas. Which was ridiculous – there was nothing wrong with sleepy sheepy.
You were watching me, that slow smile messing with my head.
“What?” I snapped irritably, uncomfortable with the weight of your gaze. “What?”
“Nothing.” You said, shaking your head. “You just look nice” you reached out, caught a wave of my hair, “with your hair down.”
I tugged away, making an impatient noise, and you dropped your hand to my arm. I looked up at you, wild eyed, and you stared back. I didn’t pull away.
For the first time in your life, your eyes weren’t dancing around, constantly distracted. They were still. We were still. We were trapped in that second.
“Are you cold?” I asked, and a part of me congratulated myself. That sounded almost normal, nice one.
You smiled slowly, your pupils huge and diluted. I wanted to tell them to stop, they were swallowing the green and it wasn’t fair.
You reached your spare arm up and cupped the side of my neck, I watched your eyes, and they watched your hand. You tangled your long, pianist’s fingers in my hair, and looked up, into my eyes.
“Can I kiss you?”
Before, when we were dancing and I was so scared that the music was my drug, that I’d come around and know it had been a mistake, I had said no.
But there is nothing hypnotic about standing in a dark kitchen, skin crawling with the memory of shivers and when the soundtrack is the humming of the fridge.
Your head dipped slowly towards mine, and I counted every second.
I was falling.
Your breath touched my face, my eyes were closed.
Maybe you were falling too.
Your lips brushed mine, a whisper of a kiss, and then deepened. And suddenly we weren’t two, beautiful, broken teenagers with no way out and who were so, so tired. Suddenly, we were a girl in sheep pyjamas and a boy with smiling eyes. Suddenly, we were inconsequential to the grand scheme of things. Suddenly, we were all that mattered.
And when you pulled away, and my eyes opened reluctantly, I saw that you weren’t going to disappear. There was no pounding bass to hide behind and my hair was brushing my the bottom of my shoulder blades.
“Okay?” You said, and I watched the way your eyes sparked, my mind was humming.
“Okay.” I said, and I knew that, for the first time in a while, there would be no nightmares tonight.