He had never stopped wondering about her. People think that once you love someone, you understand everything about them; he thinks maybe it's the other way around. This whole other aspect of loving her has made him understand her less than ever, and sometimes when she cries he holds her without saying anything, because he has no idea what's wrong. Sometimes he protects her from unknown evils, and sometimes he finds that he has let her down more than she will ever know. Maybe this is the part of loving her that hurts the worst.
She loves the way that she wakes up in the middle of the night. She used to hate it, because it means she gets less sleep than she should, but now she is willing to sacrifice the time. These are her moments of privacy, laying in the darkness of their room at some early hour of the morning. He always sleeps on his side. She likes to trace the contours of the ribs visible beneath his flesh, and it reminds her of every beautiful painting she has ever made and every beautiful dream she has ever dreamt.
Some night she wakes him up, hungry for his skin on hers. He never complains about these interruptions, only takes her into his arms and leads her to a place they have shared only with each other. She tries to memorize the feeling of him as he moves around her, on her, inside her, all at once a piece of her and she a piece of him. She fits herself to him, exploring every nook and crevice until she knows every part of the man she was destined for, the man that makes her the woman she has always wanted to be. She realizes that there is always something new to him.
But most nights she doesn't wake him, only watches him for a while before she tucks herself in to him, picking up his heavy arm and draping it over her torso. Sometimes he stirrs in his sleep and pulls her closer to him, and she burrows happily into his embrace, listening to the beating of his heart and feeling his warm breath on her scalp.
There are things she does that drive him insane, like how she always chews the ends of her pencils and how she has as much common sense as a five-year-old. Once, she burned her arm leaning on a hot stovetop, and he cursed and cried all the way to the hospital because he knows he will never be able to protect her from herself.
She takes care of him more often than he takes care of her. There is never a situation she doesn't have a solution for. She is his friend and his lover and his companion, and he has never wondered if he made the right choice with her. There could never be anyone else.
Sometimes she thinks about all the time she wasted on other men before him. There's so much lost time they'll never have, and she loathes how she's the sort of person to think about the ends rather than the beginnings. She thinks that when she dies she'll know she didn't have as much time to love him as she should have. He doesn't think that way- he tells her that being with other people made them better for each other. She can tell he really believes it.
He is every sort of beautiful. She loves to watch him in the moments he thinks no one is looking; her artistic mind traces every shape of him- the way he walks, how his hands move when he's excited, the curve of his spine under her hands when he bends his 6'2" frame to meet her lips. The last one is her favorite.
Sometimes people ask him if he knew from the beginning that she was the one for him. It's an easier question than it should be, but he always knew. Maybe not consciously at first, but something in him stirred when he met her. She was the piece he had always missed, the quietness to calm his loudness, the happiness to infuse his sometimes-melancholoy demeanor, the natural beauty to bring back together the parts of himself that he had lost. He loved her, and that was enough to glue himself to the sticking place, to be strong for every moment she was weak and loving for every moment she was unsure.
Some people think he knew far before she did, but he knows the truth. She just fought it longer, doubted it more strongly. He looks at the art she made back then, and he sees the pieces of them in every painting. He sees the things inside of her that neither of them can name, things that are dark and light and terrifying and comforting and not quite ready to be spoken yet. He knows they have time for that. They have time to keep loving each other.
They will keep learning how.
© Copyright 2016 Josephine Ann. All rights reserved.
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