It’s been so long since they saw each other as lovers. It wasn’t easy, to stay apart and heal separately. They used to lick each other’s wounds, leak into one another through the cracks; pain was never delivered with the intention to hurt. Yet, no one taught them how to stay safe when love itself was the source of sufferance.
Kate shifted in her seat uneasily. It was time to go. Ray, though, didn’t move in the slightest. They just stared at each other, coffees getting cold, untouched. Ray smiled. A smile Kate couldn’t decipher and the novelty tickled the sadness away from the back of her neck. The world flourished with colours, background noise bubbled up to the surface, loneliness dissipated into a warm late afternoon.
They stepped outside the café with a new connection they could not yet understand. It was suddenly easy to find time, make plans, listen and care. Ray walked a few inches ahead, impatiently. Kate followed, with little desire to collect her belongings. She thought they’d probably smell of Ray. She didn’t want to be in that apartment without the privilege of moving through it like it was her own. Ray sensed Kate’s mood and slowed down a little, eyes open and welcoming. They walked together in silence, speculating about each other’s thoughts.
The flat felt empty, but not in a bad way: plants were static, observant but not judgemental; little creatures that knew stories no one could remember; clothes were scattered around methodically; they made sense to Ray’s mind. Kate’s sweaty feet felt funny against the squeaky clean floor, so she giggled. Ray looked up from a box they just pulled from under the bed, puzzled.
“What’s so funny?,” the expression asked. Kate shrugged.
The box contained books, electronics with horrifyingly entangled cables, sex toys, a stuffed iguana toy with a missing eye and many undistinguishable elements that would eventually meander their way past any sentimental value. Kate looked at the contents of the box and sighed. Ray pushed the box aside and hugged her. Wasn’t it forbidden, to hold someone like that when you are no longer together? It wasn’t just supportive physical contact. The sensations were beyond what Ray and Kate knew about each other, the history they shared and the language they crafted to read each other. Feelings were arising on a primal level. Desire was chemical, viscerally deep.
The first time they had sex, a few years back, it weighed on them like a rock, a feeling they couldn’t escape. They had absolutely no control over it, and the first kiss was a gulp of oxygen; only, as though through water, they emerged from the density of the attraction for each other. Time stopped. Space unfolded and the universe cracked open.