The Space Between

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Chapter 14

JACK

“A single one of her dreams was more powerful than a thousand realities. She held more conviction in a single memory than most had in their entire existence.”

Saturday Evening

Maddy and I slept in until almost noon. She wanted me to take her home so that she could make some food for the dinner that I had agreed to. I noticed that I had a missed call on my cell phone. It was the auto body shop saying Maddy’s car was complete. I called them back and arranged to have it towed to her house at six thirty, so I could surprise her. I walked into my bedroom and looked at the closet door lying on the floor. I left it off, for memory’s sake.

I had some time to kill before I headed over to Madalyn’s. Leaving my cell phone on the kitchen table, I pulled my hidden apartment phone out from under the kitchen sink and hit redial. The phone rang twice before my grandfather picked up.

“Jack,” he said, knowing no one else would be calling from this number.

“Hey, Grandpa,” I said.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“Not much. I just had some time to kill and thought I’d call you.”

“Time to kill? What do you got going on that you wouldn’t have time to call me?”

“Well, ever since we reached a stand still, I have started working,” I answered.

“Working? Working, doing what?” He asked, almost sounding angry.

“Just some general construction,” I countered.

“Are you being smart about it?”

“Grandpa. Why are you even asking that?”

“I’m just doing my job, sorry,” he replied, sounding a bit more calm.

There was a brief silence between us.

“Have you heard anything since we last talked?” I asked.

“If I did, you would have already known about it,” he answered.

I thought about telling him about the black car I had seen, but since I had not spotted it again, I did not want to worry him over nothing.

“So what do you got going on? You going back to work? It’s already… well, hell. It’s already past three in the afternoon over there. What are you doing starting so late? Or are you on break?”

“Grandpa, it’s Saturday. I’m not working. I met a girl at the house I’m working on. I have a date with her tonight,” I told him.

There was silence on the other end of the phone, and I waited for him to start talking.

“You’re serious?” he said, sounding disappointed.

“Yes, I am,” I replied, standing my ground.

“Jack, I don’t think that is being fair to your families’ memory,” he counseled.

“Not fair to their memory? Their memory is destroying me. I find myself wishing that they had never existed. It’s not your life, Grandpa. And this girl is special. She’s not just something to keep me busy.”

“It’s not your life either. That, is not your life. What about our plans, Jack?” he yelled.

“What about our plans,” I mocked. “We have all this info, more than we need, but that still doesn’t bring us closer to a solution.”

“I told you what the solution was, and so did the Chumash Council, but you didn’t like that solution,” he told me.

“That solution is reckless, and you know it,” I said, agitated. “And Tommy, thinks it’s reckless too.”

“Yes, it may be reckless, but it would at least get the ball rolling. And Tommy only knows what I allow him to know. His opinions don’t mean much because he doesn’t have all the facts.”

“Regardless of what Tommy knows, or doesn’t know, you can call me back when you have found another solution,” I informed him.

“What are you going to do? You goin’ to go on some cute date, while the blood of our family screams from the ground?” he shouted.

“Shut your god-damn mouth, old man!” I screamed back.

Never had I been so angry with my Grandfather. “You weren’t even there. I saw the terror on their faces. I have more right than you. Do you think I really need to be reminded of this shit? I don’t need your stupid, ignorant comments.”

“Jack,” he replied calmly, realizing how upset I was. “I think we both need to calm down. I’ll just talk to you again in a day or so.”

“I can’t say that I’m looking forward to that,” I coldly replied.

“Fair enough. Before I hang up, I just want to know if you got that package?” he asked.

“Yes, a few days ago. I hate guns. I told you I didn’t want that shit,” I answered.

“I know what you said. But the Chumash Council insisted,” he said.

“Well, the council has been reckless lately. I wasn’t even here when it was delivered. It’s safe to say I got them, but they will remain unopened, sitting in the shed,” I told him.

“You can do what you want with them. That seems to be what you’re doing these days anyway,” he replied, and then I heard only a dial tone.

I slammed the phone down and threw it back under the cabinet.

I was pissed, so I paced my apartment before I started to work out. I worked out for a while, trying to get rid of all my aggression. It seemed to work a little. When I was done, I took a quick shower and put on some jeans and a white T-shirt. I grabbed my leather riding jacket; it fit me a little tighter than I remembered. I had gained muscle weight since I last wore it. I decided it was time to bust out my motorcycle.

My bike was a charcoal gray, Honda Cruiser, Shadow Phantom series. I wondered if I could even get it started. I hadn’t started it in over a year. The gas tank was empty so I filled it with the gas can I had sitting in the shed. I wheeled my bike out, along with my helmet. It was surprising when it fired right up without a problem. I left it running for a while, and I pulled the throttle back a few times, giving it gas.

She took off nicely and still handled well. The temperature outside was significantly cooler than yesterdays high heat. It was in the lower seventies and was going to continue to drop into the forties through tomorrow. I rode around for a bit, making sure I wouldn’t have any engine problems. When all seemed good, I headed for Madalyn’s.

I didn’t want to show up to dinner empty handed, so I first stopped at the market and picked up a bottle of wine. There was a nice little flower shop called Flowers and Designs, right on the corner of Fairview drive. It was conveniently placed so that it was on the way. I stopped there, and looked around. A man with a sunny disposition greeted me.

“Hello, Sir, can I help you?” he greeted, unnecessarily elongating his s’s.

“Yes, actually. I want to get some flowers for a very special woman. I don’t want it to be cliché with just roses,” I said, wanting an idea from him.

“Well, tell me about the woman, and I will help you,” he replied.

His response caught me off guard, so I thought about it for a moment. And after a short moment I felt I needed to tell him, not just for him, but for myself as well.

“Well this is new love, I would say, and yet a very special kind. It is very special, actually. The kind you could only read about. Trust me on that.”

His eyes grew wide, and he looked very intrigued at my answer.

“Really? Doesn’t that sound exciting! Do tell,” he responded, leaning on the counter and resting his chin on his fist.

I laughed a little at his interesting response.

“I hardly believe it myself, actually. Basically I met this woman a long time ago, when she was just a kid. Well, she has remembered me her whole life, and kept a journal about it. She actually lives just at the end of the lane here with her mother. They just bought the house. She has the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. And her body is almost overwhelming to look at. If you had to describe her beauty it would be impossible, so it’s safe to say that she is not of this earth,” I said, realizing I could have talked forever about her.

“My goodness. Your description is making me fall in love, and it is that kind of love where I would recommend roses anyway. The history of love is affiliated with roses, and it goes back centuries. I can tell you what each rose color means, and you can choose,” he informed.

“Okay, I’m listening,” I said.

“White roses mean purity, secrecy, reverence, worthiness, and innocence,” he told me.

“She is all of those things and more. I’m not over-exaggerating,” I reassured him.

“I believe you, Sir,” he replied smugly, with his eyes closed. “The red roses mean love, of course, but they also mean respect, courage and passion. The pink rose says happiness, sweetness, and romance, whereas the yellow rose shows a kind of friendship and caring. The coral rose symbolizes desire. Now, the black rose can mean different things. It can mean death, but since it is not truly a black rose, but rather, a new rose that has not grown to the full red color yet, it can also mean new love. The most special rose I think is the lavender rose. Probably the most mystical, fairy-tale perfect flower. It’s interesting as well to note that purple is a mystical color, so sending a single purple rose means you find her majestic. If you are seeking to voice your deepest love and admiration for her, give her the dynamic Blue Curiosa,” he told me, barely taking a breath.

“You are a wealth of information. Thank you. She is all of these things, so can we just get one of each color, placing the lavender rose and the blue one you last mentioned, in the center of them all?” I asked.

“Brilliant idea, sir. I’ll put that together for you. That is…” he cleared his throat, “a lot of roses with a few rare ones.”

I picked up on what language he was speaking. “I’m paying cash,” I told him.

#

I rode from the flower shop, making sure the roses on my lap faced away from the wind, so they would not be ruined. I drove at only twenty-five miles per hour. As I rode along the tree-lined driveway, I started to smell food. Maddy said she was going to cook, and she must have really meant it. I was quite a ways off from pulling up to the house when the aroma hit my nose. I parked my motorcycle right at the porch steps and looked out at the dock. The sunset looked like something out of a painting. My back was facing the front porch when the front door opened. I turned to observe her brilliance.

“I didn’t know you had a motorcycle?” she questioned.

The sunset honeyed her complexion and brightened her eyes. She tried to hide her smile with her hand as she saw the roses I was holding. And so with that, I stepped up to her on the porch. Her usual citrusy, orange blossom scent could be recognized over the fragrance coming from the roses.

“These are for you.”

I gave her the roses, and she put her nose to them, and closed her eyes as she inhaled.

“They’re beautiful, Jack,” she said, opening her brilliant eyes and flashing them at me. Her violet eyes had tears at the corners, where the sharp angle met with the soft beauty of her face. It really meant something special to me that she appreciated the flowers.

“The man at the flower shop told me what each color rose meant. Granted, I can’t remember them all, but they all seemed to describe you. I couldn’t pick any one color, so I chose one of each. I do remember that the purple rose meant majestic.

She laughed at me and blushed.

“Are you trying to tell me I’m majestic?”

I laughed. “The extremely flamboyant man at the flower shop, who had an opinion about everything, told me all of this info.”

I took a step forward, closing the space between us. “The red rose of course means love, and the coral rose I think means desire. Or maybe that was the black rose,” I informed her. I felt like I was ruining the moment with this stupid information. “You know it doesn’t even matter. You are more beautiful than all of these,” I told her. She placed her finger tips over my lips.

“I love the flowers, and I love you. The black rose means new love,” she said as she slid her fingers along my bottom lip. Madalyn stood up on her toes with the strength and finesse of a ballet dancer, like she did so well, and kissed me while her fingers were still in the way. She spun on her toes, taking my hand and pulling me through the front door.

I admired her as she led me along. She was wearing a cute, loose fitting, dark blue dress that hung to her mid-thigh. She had a large brown belt around her waist and quite a few turquoise-colored bracelets on. Her adornments were beautiful, and her light, bluish-gray eye shadow blended with her complexion well. Whatever lip gloss she was wearing had a mint flavor that tingled my lips where she had kissed me. I could taste it, and I could still feel it. It was pleasant.

She had curled the ends of her hair, and pulled it to one side of her shoulder, using a few strands as a hair tie. Her fingers and toes were painted a mint blue, almost the color of her eye shadow. Her dress hung perfectly off her left shoulder, revealing a small beauty mark that I hadn’t previously noticed. The thought of having a poet describe her was sounding more and more reasonable.

“The food smells wonderful, Maddy,” I told her as we walked into the kitchen.

“I hope you like it. I made homemade chips, and pico de gallo. I have garlic salted taco shells for steak tacos. Every condiment you can think of for a taco is here,” she presented to me at the island counter.

I instantly went from a little hungry to ravenously starving. “I seriously love you,” I told her.

“So it is true what they say; that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” Anne blurted as she walked in from the other room.

Maddy laughed at her mother. “That’s not the only way,” she said, winking at me.

#

We took no time in sitting down and eating. The Mexican food was amazing, and I made sure to tell her. We talked and laughed over dinner. I opened the wine I had brought and poured us all a glass.

Her mother was immediately on board with everything, I felt. My guess is that she just liked seeing her daughter happy.

Anne was in the middle of her second glass when there was a short silence between us that was interrupted by a knock at the front door.

“I wonder who that could be,” Anne questioned as she got up from the table. I had trouble containing my smile, knowing what was about to happen.

I took Maddy’s hand, and pulled her to the door with me. The tow truck driver left the keys in the car like I had asked, and took off as soon as he knocked on the door.

“Why is he leaving?” Anne rightfully questioned.

I pulled Madalyn onto the porch and held my arms out to her restored Lark. It hadn’t been too bad to begin with, so it wasn’t a surprise that it was finished in the time I had requested.

“Your baby is all fixed as far as the engine goes. I thought I’d get rid of a few rust spots while it was in the shop,” I said, laughing as Maddy gasped, and held her hands over her face.

She recklessly threw herself in my arms, naturally crashing her lips against mine. When she was done kissing me all over my face, she leapt from the porch fluently and began inspecting her restored car.

“Wow, Jack. Did you seriously do this for her?” Anne asked me.

“Well, not me personally, but I had it done by someone,” I answered.

Madalyn ran back to the porch and jumped on me once more, wrapping her arms around my neck and lifting her feet from the porch. My arms held her around her waist, keeping her suspended as she kissed me once more. She grabbed my head and put her mouth to my ear as her mother stepped off the porch, inspecting the car.

“I love this man,” she whispered in my ear.

I kissed her on the cheek before bringing my mouth to her ear. “I love this woman,” I said in return, and squeezed her tight. She let out a small sigh of ecstasy as she nuzzled her face against my neck.

#

We ended up sitting in the living room in front of the electric fire place. Maddy and I sat squished together on the sectional couch. Anne told me stories about Maddy growing up how she was always writing and reading books.

“She was always a loner and had some little project going on,” Anne recollected.

Eventually Maddy had laid her head on my lap, and I hadn’t noticed that she had fallen asleep.

“How long has she been out?” I whispered to Anne.

“Almost as soon as she had laid her head on you,” she replied.

I stroked her hair.

“Poor girl. She worked so hard today to prepare dinner, I bet,” I said to defend her falling asleep at eight thirty.

“She was cooking the second you dropped her off today, and getting herself ready at the same time. That girl used to sit, and read cook books like they were novels. I remember she would experiment with cooking everything, and get so mad when we didn’t have some ingredient she needed. So I would have to run to the store and pick it up,” Anne told me.

“That’s cute. Well, it shows. She’s a very good cook,” I complimented.

Anne simply nodded her head as she ran her hand through her hair. She was a beautiful older woman, and it surprised me she stayed single. Perhaps she did it just for Maddy’s sake.

“You know, Jack, it’s like Madalyn had been preparing for this moment her whole life, and I hope you realize that. She’s been waiting for the moment you would show up. It’s as though she worked so hard at everything as a child, and as a teenager simply stopped, and waited for you.”

“Yes. Her conviction in a single memory is more than most people have their whole lives. It’s inspiring, isn’t it?” I said.

“Yes, it is. Her whole life was dedicated to that single incident, that one memory,” she said, staring into her glass of wine. “You know, I don’t expect you to understand, but since you showed up, it feels like I’m just now getting to know my daughter. Especially after reading that journal,” Anne confessed, sounding a little emotional.

“You just read that?” I asked.

“Correction. Just discovered its existence,” she whispered. “I thought I knew my daughter, but the opening contents of that journal told me something about her I never knew. It basically told me, in short, who she really was, or rather is. I knew nothing about you, Jack. This is all overwhelming to think about, and I can’t imagine how she must be feeling.”

“I know what you mean. Reading that, and contemplating on the what-ifs, could drive you crazy. What if I hadn’t been there that day? I had to shake those thoughts out of my mind,” I whispered back in reply, occasionally looking at Maddy sleeping.

“Well, I was there that day, and watched her go out into the water. I feel like a bad Mother,” she said, dropping her head to hide her emotion.

“Now, now. I wasn’t even thinking that. How could you have known? What could’ve happened, didn’t happen,” I said as I scratched my head, thinking about the series of unfortunate events that had brought us back together. It was an unfortunate event that almost took place all those years ago, that caused our meeting in the first place.

“You’re right, Jack. The what-ifs will make you go crazy. And thank you,” she voiced, eyes watery.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” I told her.

“Yes, well, according to her journal, it was something more than that. An angel, she’s called you. I figured when I picked up that journal, I was going to be reading all about her father. But after the first five pages, everything was about you. Someone she had only encountered once. She was actually convinced you were an angel,” Anne relayed to me, in a low whisper, occasionally sipping her wine.

“I haven’t read very far. Only the first five pages,” I said.

Anne exhaled, and widened her eyes, staring at the floor.

“Well, it’s deep. She has all these theories and beliefs. They sound like prayers to…” she paused and tipped her glass toward me, “you. Throughout the entire journal, she asked for you to appear once more so she could tell you how much she loved you. It’s just strange to picture my thirteen or fourteen-year-old Madalyn having these thoughts. I guess behind closed doors, growing up, she was someone else that I never got to see. Then again, she was always quiet, never said much after her father passed away. I remember wondering a lot as to what was going through my little girl’s head.”

“I’ll have to read it sometime, if she’ll let me,” I interrupted. “Anne, if you don’t mind my asking, what exactly happened to her father?”

Anne pulled on the back of her neck like she had an ache of some kind.

“He was going back to Portugal for three weeks to be with his parents. They were sick. His plane was struck by lightning and went down in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. There were no survivors,” Anne told me, letting melancholy coat her words.

“Sorry,” I told her, sincerely.

“Thank you. I dealt with it the best I could. Maddy didn’t get out of bed for weeks, as you probably know. I couldn’t get her to eat anything either. She withered away to nothing. I thought she was going to die from a broken heart. Then one day she wanted to go to the beach, and after that day she seemed to be doing better. It all makes sense now,” she said, pulling at her neck the whole time. “She loved her father very much… and so did I.” Anne sat up straight, realizing that she was slouching and looking pitiful as she reminisced about her deceased husband.

“Well you two seemed to do pretty well by yourself,” I complemented.

“Yeah well, you became Maddy’s reason to live. Why, if I had lost her - let’s just not think about that. Once again, thank you for being there when she obviously needed someone the most.”

I nodded, not able to look right at her. I felt a little embarrassed. I hadn’t felt like I saved anyone. To me it just felt like an incredible coincidence, but to Maddy and her Mother, it was as if some hidden force controlled the outcome of that day.

“And for having such unusually kind eyes,” she mentioned, smiling at me.

“Maddy was the first person to ever tell me that,” I said.

“She is right. They are kind, and unusual. Your eyes don’t match the rest of you. I’m not saying that as a bad thing, though. Are you Spanish or something?” she asked.

“My father was full Native American, and my mother was Greek. My father met her when he was traveling abroad,” I told her.

“Native American, that’s neat. Are you Cherokee?”

“Yeah,” I lied.

“A lot of modern day Native Americans are, it seems” she said.

I only nodded in reply, not wanting to get into my history.

“That’s right, Mom. Native American. He wears a loin cloth on the weekends,” Maddy chimed in with her eyes closed.

“You came back to us,” I said, laughing.

“I needed a power nap,” she replied, sitting up.

Anne stood up, setting her empty wine glass on the coffee table.

“I’m going to go clean the kitchen. It was nice getting to know you a little more, Jack,” she said.

“Thank you. Likewise,” I returned.

“Mom, I’m going to Jack’s tonight,” Maddy said, and it kind of embarrassed me. I was unsure how her mother would react to the idea of her staying over… again.

“Okay, just follow him in your car. Those motor bikes scare me,” is all she replied.

. /

We said goodnight to her mother, and Maddy packed some things in her bag to stay the night. I parked my motorcycle into the shed and spun the padlock combination to something other than the proper code. I met Maddy at her car to see if she needed help carrying anything up.

“She drives nice,” she said, rubbing her hand on the hood of her car. “Thank you so much, Jack, for fixing my car. You really didn’t have to do that.”

“Yes I did. It was no problem, Maddy. I’m really happy you like it,” I replied.

She embraced me, pressing her head against my chest. After I kissed the top of her head, I reached down, and caught her behind her legs, cradling her. She let out a chirp, and a laugh. Her lips were kissing mine as I carried her to the top of the stairs. She kicked the flats off her feet as we entered my apartment and held a foot in the air, pointing her toe as we kissed.

It was heartwarming to know that she wasn’t even trying to be more, that she was only herself. Her body shifted so that she could float herself to the floor. As she landed, she spun on her toes and leaned against the counter. I stepped toward her, and she held out a long leg, stopping me with the tip of her toe. Her stare was laced with aspiration. She slid her toe from my chest down to my belt, curling her toes into the waist of my jeans. I was pulled toward her by her leg, which she wrapped around my waist, drawing me in until there was no space between us. I brought my hands under her jaw, cupping her face, kissing each one of her beautiful eyes. Her soft hands met with mine, and she pulled them down to her chest. She held my hands in place and began kissing me. After a long moment, her mouth let go of mine, and she glanced down at my hands before pulling one from her chest to her soft cheek, closing her eyes and kissing my wrist. I lightly stroked the softness of her cheek with my thumb. Her mouth turned up slightly into a smile, and her closed eyes spoke to me with tender warmth. She brought all of herself against me, letting out a sigh of comfort and eagerness.

“Make love to me, Jack,” she whispered, sending a chill through my body that she could most likely feel.

Pulling her away from me, I held onto her face tenderly.

I gazed, with intensity, into every extremity of her violet eyes, and the magnitude with which she stared back conquered all of me. I had gotten lost in the beautiful violet space, yet could see the dark, the light, and all the space between the brilliant complexities of this beautiful creature. The more I gazed, the more in awe I became.

We moved with each other, like a dance, as the moment refused to let go of our spirits. With each step we took, an article of clothing fell, but our stare remained the same.

She swayed me in a circle as we entered the bedroom, her white and pink floral bra wrapped around the back of my neck. She touched her forehead to mine, smashing our noses together.

“Jack, I used to build dreams about you. I’d fall asleep, day-dreaming of you, and those thoughts followed me when my eyes closed, and every space between that.”

She stood against me in her small, white panties. Her eyes looked straight into mine as our faces were smashed into one another.

“I’m now afraid to close my eyes. What if I wake up and this was all imagined?” she spoke, her heart pouring into her violet eyes.

She was holding onto me for dear life, afraid to let go. Her physical strength matched her heart. I was letting her handle me for her sake.

I leaned us toward my bed, and that is where we fell. I trapped her beneath me, pinning her hands down as I kissed around her neck, and collar bone.

She quickly pushed against my hip with her foot and arched her pelvis in one subtle, fluid movement. This caused me to lose my balance and roll as she mounted herself on top of me. She brought her face down to mine and squeezed her hands around my wrists.

“You’ve been Jiu-Jitsu’d,” she said.

I laughed at how cute she was.

“Where did you learn that?” I asked, continuing to laugh.

“I started ballet, self-defense, and women’s Jiu-Jitsu when I was fifteen. Granted, my priorities have changed in the recent week, so I haven’t been to any of my classes.”

“I wondered if you didn’t do something more than dance. I noticed you were very graceful on your feet,” I said.

She laid her naked chest against mine, folding her arms and resting her chin. “Yep. I dance beautifully, but I’m also a deadly serious killing machine,” she joked, trying not to break a smile.

“Is that so? Well, I’ll just have to hire your talents when the time comes,” I kind of joked.

She propped herself up on her hands, pressing, and squeezing her thighs down on top of me. “Well, I learned in my first self-defense class that it’s not how big you are…” she stated, rocking her hips, “it’s how you move.”

I knew in this instant that the pillow talk had ended. She sat up on her knees as she straddled me, never taking her eyes from mine as she pulled my underwear off along with hers.

I collected images in my mind of her many expressions. Every move, every look, every sound was stimulating. She was a miracle of creation.

She seemed to enjoy this position that she once again claimed, and I had no complaints. I merely roved my hands over her soft, young skin, occasionally holding her hips to feel her motion. Her flawless curves and glowing skin left nothing for words. She could not be properly described. Madalyn was from a different world. She was a fairy tale.

Once upon a time, I alone escaped my tragic end, only to find that real beauty was only discovered after death. I had awoken from a terrible dream, into the space between two worlds: asleep and awake. I could stay here in the presence of this divine creature.

Once upon a time, this winsome spirit, decorated in the most supernal flesh and prepossessing curves, wanted to love me, and she did love me. To describe her would be trying to describe a dream. It could not be understood, only experienced. I, however, was a realism she dreamed of meeting again. The thought was astonishing and, at the same time, overwhelming. This alluring being was making love to me. She was trying to mend all that had been broken. I only had to look at her, and it caused me to rethink what I was living for. She made me question what I believed in. What was worth living for, and what was worth dying for.

She had slowly risen up only to fall back down again. Her body trembled on top of me, and she covered her mouth with both hands in an attempt to hide the song that rose out of her lungs. Her body folded over mine.

“Aesthetic, pleasing,” she whispered, her voice shaking and her teeth chattering.

Madalyn then let out a shaken laugh, realizing how she sounded. She moved her hips so that we were no longer connected on that level. Her body experienced an aftershock from the movement, and she once more covered her mouth as she unintentionally let out chirp. Every shaken inhale brought with it a beautiful echo that clearly demonstrated her satisfaction.

“Maddy, are you okay?” I asked.

“Y...yes,” she chattered as she tried to speak amongst the trembling. “I… the ending feeling… wouldn’t leave.”

The ending feeling?

Her innocence was moving, and it tugged at my heart.

“Is it still there?” I asked as I put my hands on her back. Her reaction to my touch answered my question, as she bit down on her bottom lip. She instantly tensed up, and grabbed my face as she forced herself to stare into my eyes.

“Look at me,” she moaned.

She dropped her head against my cheek, and her soft black hair fell over my face. Her breathing eventually steadied, and she rolled onto my arm. I wrapped us into a blanket, and we turned to face one another.

Once more her gaze resonated kinetic energy that kept my heart alive. We petted and stroked one another’s face, softly kissing, saying nothing with words but everything with touch. I watched her eyes close as she touched her face to mine, and I felt her breathing steady.

Admittedly, I too was afraid that if I fell asleep, I would wake to find my bedside empty. And so we held onto one another as if our existence depended on it.

“Because of you I exist, Jack,” she whispered to me once more. “And after that, my reason for existence. All of my vitality has brought me to this moment, with you. This is my reason for being here.”

I kissed her finger-tips before falling asleep, breathing in her scent. She was a dream catcher, holding onto my nightmares, and allowing my sleep to be uninterrupted. I held onto the hope that in the space between sleep and awake, she would be there to find me.

#

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