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By still_nina


It's crazy. And you know it. The number of times you turn around – ever day – and open your mouth… just to close it again. Because the person you want to talk to isn't there. Ridiculous. And crazy. The things you forget to do, because she used to do them… embarrassing.

Embarrassing, ridiculous and crazy. That's what you have become in the month since you moved out of the first real home you can remember.

The worst thing, though. The thing you only admit to yourself, late at night and after a drink or five, is that you miss her most when you lay in bed at night. Even though, you never shared a bed with her, her absence is a physical entity in the darkness of your new bedroom. Everything smells new, disinfected and impersonal. And it's cold. It's so cold that you spend your nights shivering under three blankets as you clutch a pillow to your chest. Sometimes you cry and sometimes you go and sit by your daughter's bed, because it's the only thing that can stop the tears. And you're so afraid that one day, you won't be able to stop. You will cry until there's nothing left of you and they will find you and say that life just drained out of you during one of these cold and lonely nights.

You stole one of her shirts. Embarrassing, ridiculous, crazy and pathetic. You wear it at night. You wanted it to protect you from the darkness, but all it does is remind you that you are fighting it all alone.

It's been getting worse. You sleep less every night and apply more make-up every morning. You spent the last three nights in your daughter's room, only forcing yourself to leave when she started to show signs of waking. You haven't slept in almost forty-eight hours. You don't even nap by the side of Emma's bed anymore.

Maybe the lack of sleep caused your lack of judgment, but for some reason you agreed to let Emma go to a classmate's birthday party. Including the sleepover. It only occurred to you as she kissed you goodbye, overnight bag in hand, that without her, the darkness would be a new kind of unbearable.

There's no alcohol in your apartment. She always took care of buying a nice bottle of wine that would go wonderfully with whatever she was cooking. They'd had great conversations about red versus white on more than one occasion. You haven't had wine since you left the farm house. You had vodka. Had. You emptied a bottle and didn't get a new one. For four days you couldn't bring yourself to care enough to buy another.

And that's how you ended up alone and stone cold sober on Friday night. Shivering under your blankets. An embarrassing, ridiculous, crazy and pathetic mess that you no longer recognize, but that still greets you in the mirror every morning.

You pick up the phone; pushing the right numbers is pure muscle memory. She picks up and you whisper the three words that always bring her to you. Not the words you want to say but the words that work.

"I need you."

You hear her knock and you hear her use the key you gave her. She refused to take back the keys to the farm house, so it seemed only fair to give her a set of keys as well. You even put them into the box she'd used last Christmas. She never asked why you still had it.

"Olivia?" Her voice is muffled through the door. You hear it and you feel like Odysseus, bound to your boat by unbreakable restrains. Only your siren makes house calls. Slowly the door opens. She hasn't turned on any of the lights, but your eyes are used to the darkness and you can see her well. She's standing in the door way, looking at you for half a second before she is moving. "What's going on? Why is it so hot in here?" She comes closer. "Are you okay? Do you need to go to the hospital?" You fear that those will always be the first two questions out of her mouth. You watch her every step as she moves towards you. She bends down; her hand is suddenly on your forehead, checking your temperature. You hear her gasp. "You're freezing! Come on. I need to get you to the hospital."

"No." The word is out of your mouth and it feels like the first honest thing you've said to her in months. Unfortunately, your teeth have started chattering. You blame the contrast of her warm hand on your freezing skin. You grab her hand and hold it between your own. "I just need-" The words are there, pressing against your lips from the inside, but you can't force them out. She sits down on the bed and it's just too much. You move without thought and suddenly your face is pressed against her stomach, your arms desperately clinging around her waist and you cry, no you sob.

You wished it still mattered to you what she thought of your behavior. You wished you had the willpower to stop this breakdown, but the truth is that there is nothing left of you. You were careless and you left pieces of yourself in places where you couldn't get them back.

You hear your name, but you only realize that it's her – saying your name like one of her prayers – when she puts her hand on the back of your head, holding you close. You don't know how long you stay that way, you trying to suck in air between sobs to the rhythm of your own name, but suddenly the hand on the back of your head is gone and she is moving. You don't know what she's doing when she pushes you away, but then she's right next to you under the covers and your thoughts briefly flicker over how glad you are that she isn't leaving. She curls herself around you like a blanket. Her arm is on your stomach, her hand grabbing your forearm; her leg is thrown over yours. She's pinning you to the bed as if she were afraid you'd fly away. Her face is buried against your neck, your name now a whisper against your skin. With every syllable, heat starts to spread through your body, starting at every point her body touches yours.

"Natalia." You've prayed before in your life, but never like that. Her name is a whisper that makes it past your lips like a cry for help.

"Olivia." She's moving again.

"Natalia." Your voice is stronger and your hands now clutch her arms where they hold her weight at both sides of your body.

"Olivia." Her voice is no longer muffled against your skin and if you could still think, you'd be thinking about the sirens again, as you can do nothing but look up and into her eyes, as she settles against your body once more. You'd try to figure out if she was a siren or Penelope, or if maybe you were Penelope, weaving, waiting, wailing. Instead, you can only say her name.

"Natalia." Your voice is barely a whisper once more, but for entirely different reasons as she presses her forehead against yours for a long moment.

"Olivia." This time it's whispered against your lips and it's the last word between you for the rest of the night. Slow, but desperate kisses communicate what neither of you could say before and soft, but deliberated caresses burn messages against skin. You undress each other hurriedly until skin is finally touching skin. Gasps and moans and screams fill the rest of the night and when you collapse against each other, you can no longer imagine the cold. She settles against you once more. You watch her eyes flutter shut and you smile. Without a thought you follow her into slumber.

The next day she will still be there. She will kiss you awake and by the time you realize it's not a dream you'll already be moaning her name. Wrapped in a single sheet, you will stand next to each other in your over-chromed kitchen, drinking water and feeding each other spoonfuls of Emma's cereal until she takes the spoon from your hands and looks at you with serious eyes and a smile. She will tell you that she has broken off the engagement over two weeks ago and you will cry, both in relief and in confusion. She will tell you that she kept it a secret, because she needed some time and she will admit that she'd been hurt by how readily you've left your home. She will confess that until last night, she hadn't been sure why she'd been rejected and pushed away and you will interrupt her and apologize for your own fears. She will kiss you then and say that she thinks she knows the same fears and she will ask not for an apology, but for help. You will make a pact. A coalition treaty against fear. A union against the darkness. You will seal it with more kisses and happy tears.

All that will happen tomorrow. For now, for the first time in a month, you sleep.

The End

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