A SUNDAY IN DECEMBER

DeeDee Brown

My eyes slowly open as a slim ray of golden light peaks through his grey curtains. I turn over, pulling his comforter up above my bare shoulders. His green eyes gaze at me as a lazy smile crosses his face. His arms reach out, wrapping tightly around my frame, pulling me further into his warmth. His broad hands grip my waist, and I feel the roughness of his palms graze my torso. I tuck my head into his chest and burrow deeper into his embrace. Snow is gently falling outside, cloaking the Ithaca ground with a blanket of white. The cover of powder conceals the previous night’s mysteries and mistakes, shielding the town’s inhabitants with its frosty chill. All I can focus on is his heartbeat, thumping steadily beneath my ear. The rhythm echoes in my mind as my head rises and falls with his breath. We breathe in tandem, deeply inhaling the late morning air.

There is a weight between us. The expectations of this cold Sunday morning loom in our minds, but neither of us bothers to pull away, even as the minutes tick by. To move from this bed would be to accept the responsibilities of the day, and move into the unknown. With both of us here, entangled in a sloppy mess of limbs, we don’t have to wonder about the other’s intentions. There is no other girl, no unread texts, no drunken Snapchat stories or wondering. It’s just two bodies, intertwined in the pureness of this early morning hour.

 An expectant sigh is released from between his pink lips as he slips out from underneath me. The comforter is pulled away from my chest and the cold air of reality drifts over me. Goosebumps creep up my arms as I watch him retrieve a worn red shirt from his closet, pulling it over his bronzed shoulders. My legs slide over the edge of the bed as I reach for my dress, tossed haphazardly on the floor. He crosses the room and kisses my forehead as I squeeze my feet into my shoes. I can feel each layer of clothing we put on increasing the degrees of separation between us.

 He turns the rusted doorknob and reaches for my hand. I follow him down the hall, zig-zagging through a maze crushed beer cans and empty red solo cups. The stairs creak as we descend, and through the foggy window I can see the cab he called me pulling up the drive. He pauses in front of the entryway and looks down at me. His warm green eyes are suddenly steely and far off, and his lazy smile seems to have turned hard. He reaches out and squeezes my arm, pulling me in to deliver a firm kiss on my expectant lips. It is hard not to mourn the loss of the closeness we had shared just ten minutes prior. He pulls away as he opens the door. “See you around.” His deep voice cracks and follows me out, pushing me into the cab and sending me off into the December morning.