You skip along the middle of the road, barefoot and completely carefree, your svelte figure silhouetted by the moon as you frolic. He watches you, following at a more leisurely pace, his worn out sneakers treading along the asphalt in no particular hurry to catch up to you. He knows that no matter how far you run you'll always find your way back to him, even if it takes you a little while to figure out how.

You're yelling and hooting into the night, singing out of key and shouting your thoughts over your shoulder back to him. He catches the broken threads of your existence and knots them together, forms some sense of them and throws them back to you. You laugh at his changes and tell him that his reality is stifling and unnecessary, he should join you in your world instead. Now it's his turn to laugh, because he knows that you're speaking nonsense.

Your skirt swishes around your thighs and there are flowers braided through your hair, so under the dull yellow glow of the street light you look almost innocent. But he knows better than that. He knows that there's an empty bottle of vodka and a Pandora's box sitting in the corner of the party you've abandoned with your discarded heels, and he knows that you've thought about letting his hands roam under your skirt again tonight. And when he gets close enough he can see the hurt and the crippling fear lingering in the glassy green of your eyes, even though you're giving him your beautiful smile.

He's nearly able to touch you, but you dart away so that his fingers close around nothing but the humid night air, giggling at your own elusiveness. He doesn't quicken his pace, because he doesn't want you knowing how desperately he wants to catch you. He just lets you run, zig-zagging across the bitumen and skipping up onto the footpaths, tapping on letterboxes and finding wonder in the most mundane aspects of suburbia.

Eventually you trip on the curb and the world spins before your eyes, tilting on its axis. But before you can even process that you're tumbling down his arms are around you, strong, secure and safe. He doesn't want you to fall. You think for a moment that he must be an incredibly fast runner, but then he's holding you up against him and you can't think of anything except how nice his hug feels. A flower falls from your hair and flutters to the ground, and you watch its petals sway with interest.

When you look up again he's staring at you and his hands have moved so that they're wrapped around your forearms. You blink at him, wondering what he's thinking and whether or not he has the urge to kiss you, because as desperate as you are to press your lips against his you'd find it awfully romantic if he were to initiate it. He breaths in the smell of you, that sweet florally scent that lingered on his pillow for days after you stayed the night, and his fingertips rub against the soft skin of your arms.

You're so close together and yet just not near enough. Right at the moment that you shut your eyes and decide to close the frustratingly small gap between you, he lets you go. Your eyelids flutter open in time to see him stooping down to collect your fallen flower. He scoops it up and tenderly places it back in your braid, brushing the back of his hand against your cheek before dropping his arms limply to his sides and stepping away.

You look up at his blank expression and then down at your shadows, elongated and distorted by the streetlight casting them across the road. The gap between them makes your stomach twist. Without a single word you understand what he's telling you. We can't do this. The world that he so easily looped together for you unravels and you feel your fractures begin to splinter and fall. For a split second you think that maybe he's changed his mind, when he reaches out to you and murmurs your name. But his icy blue eyes remain guarded and, besides, you're already gone, running barefoot down the road away from his reality.


a.n. no pillowbook. please review.