I played big spoon until they went to sleep, it was the easiest thing to do.
As soon as I felt their breathing shallow I rolled away and made some distance.
We lay back-to-back, disconnected.
They snored gently. I stared into the darkness, lonelier now than I’d ever been.
I thought back over tonight’s altercation and tried to work out if it was my fault, as they’d told me. There was no use. It just merged with older arguments compounding the confusion, so I gave up and went back to staring blankly, waiting for unconsciousness.
It didn’t come, and I felt sick. Not ill, and not the sort of sick you get from eating the wrong thing at the wrong time. I felt sick at my core. A grating, tectonic pressure, as if I were trying to fold in on myself.
I wasn’t going to sleep tonight, again. I needed to get out.
I knew they wouldn’t wake, they were used to me getting up in the night. Still, I moved carefully. I took an age to slide to the edge of the bed, where I pulled back the sheets as if I were a surgeon peeling skin from skull. Once out, I tip-toed around gathering my clothes then eased myself from the room to dress in the corridor.
The next part was like ripping off a plaster. I slipped down the stairs and let myself through the front door in what felt like a single fluid movement, skipping over the creaky fourth step as I went. Gently, I clicked the door closed behind me, fished my car key from my pocket, and swapped the silence of their house for the silence of my own metal box.
Looking out at the empty street I made the mistake of letting emotions seep in, now they were no longer held away by the adrenaline of escape. I heard my breaths quicken, felt a fizz in my heart, and moisture around my eyes. It was only when I heard the creak of a door I realised I’d sat for several minutes and made no attempt to put my key in the ignition.
A figure had appeared in the doorway, washed with the yellow of streetlights. It was them. I squinted through the darkness expecting to see a vile and wizened crone, but I did not. Despite everything, they still looked beautiful to me.
What they saw in my distorted frame, I’d never known.
The body took one step out, put an arm forward, and beckoned me with a folding of their fingers. That was the extent of their seduction and I offered no resistance. It took no time to move back to the doorstep from my car, repocketing the key as its lights flashed once behind me.
Outside the house they kissed me once, drawing an immediate apology from my lips. I couldn’t tell you if they offered one too.
They turned and led me back upstairs. Sadness poured into me in waves with every step I climbed.