I am already in bed when she uses her key.
The key was cut just a couple of weeks ago, new enough that it’s edges are still sharp and hungry, so it sticks a little going in, then refuses to come out again. I hear that tiny bit of added effort that is needed from my place in the dark, watching the street light cut into wide slats on the wall opposite the bedroom window, waiting.
It’s late. At least, late for a week night, and so I was trying to get to sleep, not really expecting her, but not surprised. She comes and goes as she pleases these days, especially now that she has her own key.
My back is to the door, but I hear her come in, shoes kicked off and discarded as she comes, a coat dropped in the dark, the muffled jangle of her keys hitting the floor from inside padded pockets. There is the long, slow hiss of her pants against her legs, then I feel her weight on the bed as she climbs in behind me, slowly.
She’s cold. She’s always cold when she first climbs into bed, later a bit warmer, cool instead, but never hot, even under layers of blankets.
“Were you sleeping?” she asks. She speaks like she’s almost asleep herself, slow and blurry, talking through the claustrophobic, spinning logic of a dream that is just on the horizon, just waiting for permission.
“No,” I answer. I never seem to sleep anymore, not without her here with me. I pause. “I didn’t know you were coming.”
“I’m sorry,” she answers, softly, her cool breath on the back of my neck in soft, rhythmic puffs that punctuate each syllable. “I was going to go out, but…”
She trails off, sleepy. So sleepy. She gets like this sometimes: distracted, soft around the edges, like she has become a photo that has lost its focus, faded from time.
“Is… it okay?” she asks, tentatively.
I nod my response to her and I know she sees it, even in the dark, as she moves her body closer to me. I feel her cool legs against the back of my own legs, her arm around my waist, her breasts pushing into my back. Her breath comes wet just beneath my hairline, softly pushing my neck hairs on a current of her cool exhalations.
“Thank you,” she slurs, now still; still enough that I think she may be drifting off to sleep behind me, her breathing slow and deep.
It has been like this for months, her sneaking into my apartment in the dark, curling her long, lean body around mine, holding me as she helps me slip into a deep, inky unconsciousness that wraps my brain and body like a blanket. It was something like seduction at first, a flirtation filled with all of those unspoken questions and pledges that new couples make, but we have since pushed through and past all of that into something different from that shaking, unpredictable edge of intrigue and need. What we have isn’t exactly friendship, not so innocent as all that, but not as energetic or driven as passion. It isn’t easy to put a name to this thing that we share, difficult to create a label for this, but it feels easy enough, especially in these hours that are normally lost to unconsciousness for others, and so it feels simple and honest, in its way.
I feel her head move a little. Are we sharing a pillow? She moves back a bit and the heft of her breath changes on my neck, gets thicker somehow, slower, and I hear something wet from within her, a sound that becomes sensation as her breath is replaced by something like the wet kiss a parent puts on the forehead of a feverish child, soft, cool, and moist.
I try to relax. It is this next part that is the worst for me and she knows it, expects it, so she tightens her grasp on my waist, pulls my body harder against her, and it comes. It’s a pinprick at first, a tiny, bright dot of heat and pressure that I imagine glows in the darkness of my bedroom. Then, slowly, it expands, that heat, its intensity almost becoming a burn, moving out from that single spot at the base of my neck, the heat filling that wetness I felt before.
It continues building, the pressure, the heat. I imagine the wetness left behind by her lips is boiling away, sizzling, as the building temperature radiates from our shared contact. My eyes are closed tight now and then something in my neck gives way; submits under the relentless pressure. It’s not deliberate on my part, but it is like she pushes through the last bit of resistance my body has and just as quickly the burning sensation starts to fade. That jab of pressure bleeds away like something I had only just imagined for a moment, something made up in my imagination, and I feel my shoulders loosen and grow lax along with it. I didn’t realize that I was clenching my jaw, but I do feel it let go, loosening along with my shoulders.
She makes a noise like she is slurping ramen, a ridiculous sound that I feel as much as I hear, and then the seal of her mouth on the back of my neck connects properly, perfectly, leaving only silence. I want to say something to her, make a joke about that sound, but my jaw doesn’t feel like mine any longer. My eyes flutter beneath my eyelids and another, new sensation hits me like a shot of alcohol, warm and heavy and expansive, as if my entire body starts to yawn, then just lets go midway through it.
She shifts behind me, her arm at my waist growing as lax as my body has become, her legs moving to find a comfortable angle, her head rolling slightly on the pillow we are sharing.
That shot, as warm and smooth as old whiskey, starts to overtake me. I feel it first in my brain, then it leaks down into the rest of my body, following closely behind that first wave of relaxation. The room seems to grow darker. Gravity lets go of me. I imagine that I am floating in deep, dark water, slow eddies pushing on my limbs, then pulling them back into place. Thick shadows surrounding me, tiny fish gliding past, close enough I feel their passing, schools of them curious, but skittish; intrigued, but shy. Something like vertigo comes, the room swaying in time with the currents that have my body, that push my doll arms, the bed listing one direction, then another, a raft lost in a forgotten sea on a moonless night.
Her breathing is as slow as mine; the soft, steady rhythm becoming the current in this otherworldly place. I concentrate on those whisper-like winds, listen to them, feel them push on me in the thick tidal flow of my underwater surroundings. Then even that rhythm fades as I drop further and further into the dark, cool depths beneath me, letting go of my body, of my thoughts, letting go even of myself as my mind forgets the barriers that hold the thick darkness away and I am simply gone. I am completely decimated by the calm that overtakes me and I am lost.