“I could love you if you let me,” she said looking up into his brown eyes knowing deep inside that she would love him too, without his permission. This was a weakness of hers, or maybe a strength.
Something had shifted in her fragile heart. The right kind word, considerate action taken had wrapped its way through that dear place of attachment and started to grow. Like a vine entangling all of her reason, it fed on affections un-returned, becoming stronger the longer it was neglected.
That’s not true.
He grinned using only the corner of his mouth, with a face full of innocence. “I’m really a sheep in wolf’s clothing,” he insisted. He held her in his grasp with a comfort that frightened her, an ease that he understood but tried to ignore.
And if she walked away, would she return once more, hoping he could meet the lowered expectations without violating that last sacred piece of her dignity? She searched his eyes for confirmation that he cared. He must, or his gaze wouldn’t follow hers as she crossed the room, smiling as she drew nearer. “I don’t want to leave,” she said. He glanced at her imploringly, “I can’t still say I love you?” he asked, once more melting her crumbling resolve.
She focused on his mouth, the source of those words she longed for to be true. “No,” she said. “You can’t still say I love you.” She turned, walking towards the door and paused, contemplating all she was still leaving in his arms, wondering if it was worth the effort to be separated from all that of which he possessed.
She could feel his trembling heartbeat, wanting to align with hers but holding back, as it always had. She had tried to adjust the speed of her own heartbeat, slowing it down or racing faster to follow his. She had held his hand, intertwining her fingers with his, waiting for the pulses to synchronize, falling asleep with her head close to his chest, listening for the secret to the rhythm of his love.
She thought of all this as she headed towards the faded blue door. Straightening her posture, holding her breath, she turned the knob and stepped into the humid night air.
*Photos from deviantart.com