His Touch

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Romance
"i love you,” i found myself saying. i don’t think i have ever said that to him before, not the way i had meant it now. we’ve been saying it to each other since we were old enough to not think the other had cooties, but it was more of a love that you say to your best friend. he is, and will always be, my best friend.
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annalise wakes in the forest. dazed, confused, and unable to see, annalise thinks shes accompanied by ethan, the love of her life. there's just one fatal flaw in her rationalization: ethan is dead.
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a short, romantic mystery based on my work, the mountains, which you can find through my profile.

Submitted: December 25, 2018

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Submitted: December 25, 2018

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 When I open my eyes, I faintly see the river, barely lit by moonlight. The air is crisp, the wind freezing my ears and face. My vision is still a blur and my brain feels foggy, but I know exactly what part of the forest I’m in.

 It’s our spot.

 A coat had been draped over my shoulders but it did nothing against the strength of the wind. The wind through the valley in Pembrooke wasn’t something you could easily fight against. The seasons were just beginning to change, but the nights were still a challenge.

 I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to. I haven’t been to this spot since the night we first kissed. I had dreamed of coming back a thousand times, but never worked up the nerve to actually do it, so why was I here right now in the middle of the night with no one around. The exact situation that got him in trouble in the first place.

 The sound of river calms me and I try focusing my eyes, but it’s no use. I feel intoxicated lightheaded and fuzzy, but there’s no burn in my throat and I can’t recall having had anything to drink. The last thing I remember is eating dinner with my parents. I take a deep breath and close my eyes in the hopes that I can see clearly when I open them.

 The crunch of twigs behind me grabs my attention and I turn to see what could have made the noise, but it’s a dark abyss beyond the trees, so dense that the moon’s light can’t reach. I turn back, letting the thought disappear from my mind.

 I can’t recall the pines being such an overwhelming aroma, but I inhale anyways. I’ll eventually adjust and it’ll be like there are no trees at all. I’ll eventually adjust to the sound of the river. Soon, I’ll be completely alone. There will be no sounds or smells. Just me and this high.

Slowly, I begin to regain my vision. I blink in an attempt to moisten my eyes, but just end up shutting them once more. I listen to the slow moving water and dead leaves rustling when the wind kicks up. There are bound to be deer and bears nearby, warmed by their fur and sleeping peacefully.

Thoughts of my love enter my mind.

The one time when we were kids, no older than ten, we had lost track of time on the Blue trail of the Pembrooke Reservation. The sun had set and we had no flashlights, food, or water. The signal was so poor that our phones were useless and it was a time before they had built-in flashlights. We held hands so we wouldn’t lose each other and had been completely silent, listening for the sound of the river. The water had been our beacon of hope and when we found it, we hugged each other so tight that we squeezed the breath right out of each other. We had stopped in front of a fallen log and looked out at the water for a few minutes, glad that we had made it. We didn’t need sight to know the rest of the way back to the parking lot. My mom was waiting right at the entrance, headlights beaming.

Eight years later and nothing about the landscape had changed. The log I sit on now is the same as it was when I was ten.

The crunching of twigs brought me back to the present. It’s clear that they’re footsteps and I turn around, only to see a man’s silhouette.

“Who’s there?” I ask, my voice feeling sore as if I had just been speaking for hours upon hours..

“Shh. Don’t worry, it’s just me.”

“Ethan?” I try to see his face, but the incoming clouds obstruct my view.

“Yes,” he placed his hand on my shoulder, sitting down beside me. “Is my jacket warming you?”

I smile, loving the tingle I feel when he touched me, but I have to chuckle. “This coat? It couldn’t keep anyone warm.”

“I’m sorry. You were shivering and I thought I was being helpful.”

“Just put your arms around me. That’ll keep me warm enough.”

And so he did. I rest my head on his shoulder, feeling the warmth radiating off his body. I haven’t felt this close to anyone in so long that I forgot what it feels like. My body tingles the way it does when your foot fell asleep and is just starting to wake up though not in a painful way.

“I miss you,” I whispered.

“I miss you too,” he said, taking a short pause before asking, “Don’t you just love the water?”

“Not as much as I love you,” I found myself saying. I don’t think I have ever said that to him before, not the way I had meant it now. We’ve been saying it to each other since we were old enough to not think the other had cooties, but it was more of a love that you say to your best friend. He is, and will always be, my best friend.

“I love you too.”

I looked up at him and gave him a cold kiss on the cheek. I wish I could see his face, look into his eyes, and watch that little dimple form when he smiles, but it was far too dark.

Ethan’s hands cupped my face and he kissed me with such confidence. I returned the kiss and soon enough I didn’t feel so cold anymore.

My body tingled at his touch. Ethan’s hand runs through my hair. He wraps his arms around my waist to pull me closer. In this moment, I feel weightless and free and desperate for more.

I can feel everything from Ethan’s lips on my neck to the shoes on my feet. I can feel the desire in his lips, his hands reaching under my shirt to rest on the small of my waist. There’s so much confidence in his movements as if he knows I’d love every move he made.

The thought of our first kiss arises in my mind. It had been so different. There had been so much hesitation and when our lips finally touched, there was a passion like no other. We had kissed one last time when he dropped me off at home and our mouths had fit like two puzzle pieces. Time had seemed to slow down, but not slow enough. It was the moment I had been waiting for for years but never had the courage to initiate it. Finally, after all that time, it happened. That night was the last time we kissed.

Because it was the last time we saw each other.

The tingling sensation begins to fade and I start to feel heavy. Why? Why was it the last time I saw Ethan? I wrack my brain looking for the answer, unable to find one. Did it matter though? We were together now, in this moment. We were sharing something so intimate, so soul-touching.

Yes, yes it mattered. Because our lips now feel like two puzzle pieces from different sets. This is different from our first kiss which had been no more than a year ago. His hands feel different than I remember. They’re softer, as if he never worked with them before. His cologne also smells different, less musky than I remember. It’s like kissing a whole different person.

Because Ethan is dead.

Tingling sensation gone, I try to move my hands when I realize that they had been taped together, my legs the same. I can’t recall when this happened or how, but they’re wrapped tight.

Questions rush through my head. How had I even gotten to the forest? I had just woken up here. How had I not noticed this sooner? Why don’t I remember anything after dinner? Who was the man whose hands were beginning to wander too far?

I’m in my pajamas. Why can’t I remember going to sleep? This is no dream. It feels too real. I can feel the cold air around me, feel every little touch and hear every leaf shift. This is reality.

I pull back. “Ethan?”

“I love you so much,” he says, making an attempt to kiss me, but I can hear his voice now. I can really, truly hear it and it’s not Ethan’s.

I try to slide on the log, but it’s not easy with restricted legs. I can feel my heart racing, pounding so loud that I fear he might hear it. “How did I get here?”

“We drove here together. Don’t you remember?”

I shake my head. “I want to go home. I’m cold.”

The man wraps his arms around me and I stiffen. “Sorry for not bringing a warmer coat. Are you sure we can’t stay a little longer? This night is just so perfect.”

“We can come back during the day. It’ll be warmer.”

I recognize his voice, but I don’t know from where. It’s on the tip of my tongue, but it’s too late for me to do anything about it.

“Are you awake?” he questions, concern in his tone.

“Well I’m not sleeping and talking at the same time,” I try to be witty, but I can’t stop myself from shaking and fearing what he might do to me.

“That’s a shame,” his voice grows cold. “I was looking forward to some more time with you.” He reaches into his jacket pocket. “It’s okay. You’ll accept me eventually. Even if I have to make you.”

I feel the pain of a needle in my neck. He placed one last cold kiss on my lips, but I can’t return it. My eyelids become heavy, the mental fog and tingling sensation returning all at once. The clouds part from the moon for just long enough to illuminate His face.

Before I close my eyes, I see Him.

And I know exactly who he his.

 


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