They had shared a
room a million times or more but something was different. He didn't know if it
was that last glass of red wine, she didn't know if it was the residual grief
from the funeral. The makeshift bed on the hardwood floor looked pathetic in
the bare room, she called it minimalistic, sometimes
claiming she was Spartan but he knew the truth. She just didn't have a lot of things, she didn't need a lot of things. She didn't need
anything but a pen and something she could write on. He had often sat on the
floor watching her jotting away furiously as he pretended to watch TV.
She forgot she had changed the sheets of her bed that morning and sat down on the crisp, fresh cotton; she had forgotten a lot of things throughout the course of the day. The sight of his coffin being motored into the back room of the crematorium for burning had erased everything else from her memory. He felt too drunk to say anything to her and it would have sounded pathetic even if he had tried; he didn't want to see her crying again.
"How are you feeling?" he asked, wondering if it was the right thing to say.
"I'm just tired. I just want to sleep," she sighed, pulling off the black jumper that had been choking her all day. He followed her example, stripping down to his boxer shorts before pulling the loose sheets over his body. She pulled on her night dress, taking her bra off once she was hidden beneath her duvet. It was the same routine every night; it had become an act of comfort, of habit. They both lay in silence, neither of them even pretending to go to sleep, both watching the candlelight dance on the ceiling until she rolled over and blew out the flickering flame.
"Are you cold?" he whispered into the darkness.
"Freezing," she replied, so softly he barely heard her. She sniffed away her silent tears. "Do you want to get in?"
"Are you sure?" he asked, only too aware of the grieving habits of friends. He didn't want to take things too far with her; he needed things to stay the way they were.
"I just want you to hold me," she whispered, moving aside so they could both fit comfortably into the single bed. They stayed silent for what felt like an age, he gently stroked her hair as she silently cried into his chest. There was nothing that either of them could say, they were both grieving in their own way, they both knew that they needed to be there. Holding each other.
"Things will be okay, y'know?" he sighed eventually, brushing her fringe out of her eyes as she looked up at him. He couldn't see her face too clearly in the dim light streaming in through the bedroom window but he could tell that her eyes were puffy and red with crying and her lips were cracked from dehydration. He kissed them anyway. A brief brush of his lips against hers, a friendly gesture of compassion, nothing more.
"How do you know that?"
"Because shit like this always happen to good people," he whispered. "But it always works out in the end,"
"I loved him, y'know?" she smiled. "Not like that but I did love him. He was always making me laugh, always getting completely trashed and doing something completely stupid," She could feel tears starting to well up again but angrily pushed them back, she had to stop crying now. There had been enough tears shed today, he hadn't cried once but she hadn't stopped.
"We all loved him. We just need to mourn him and move on," She nodded as he spoke; she knew he was right but it didn't stop the pain in her heart and soul at his death. Neither of them spoke again. They stayed silent and still in each others' arms, listening to each other breathe and feeling sated by the comfort they felt in each other.
"I love you too," she finally whispered into the darkness. He didn't reply. He just kissed her forehead and closed his eyes and she knew without the words that he felt the same.