~ an imagined romance ~
“That sound you hear, that awkward long silence punctuated by my now explanation of it. Well… that’s me biting my lip and my cheeks hurting from how hard I’m smiling. That’s me being over-the-moon thrilled by your call, so more than happy to hear your voice. That’s me not saying it, but feeling how much I love you and I’m really glad you called.”
Her smile couldn’t help but ride her voice, bursting from the phone’s speaker into an awaiting ear. And Fera couldn’t help but catch the infectious nature of Gem’s grin.
“How is it? Where are you this week?”
“Oh, just some small town in the middle of nowhere, at least it feels like nowhere. We’re inspecting soil samples this time, testing for baselines and to see if there’s been any contamination to the ground water or crop soil. Hot, boring work out in the heat of the long summer day. But surely you’ve got better things to talk about, something more fun you want to hear.”
“I just want to hear your voice. Even if it’s talking about dirt and water. Even if you’re tired or worn down. I miss you next to me, so since I can’t have that, can you just keep talking.”
“About anything. What did you have for breakfast?”
Gem, with her earnest honesty. With her dark brown eyes that always made Fera melt. Gem with the insistence on weekly calls, long aimless conversations, so much time spent on the phone while Fera was away. Gem, the girl Fera couldn’t help but love.
“I had orange juice, a bagel, and some oatmeal. What about you?”
“I didn’t eat breakfast. I hit snooze too many times and had to run out the door to make it to work on time.”
Gem, who never wanted to get out of bed. Who, on Sunday mornings when Fera slept over, would curl up next to lover, pulling all the covers away, and never letting them go. Or who’d splay her entire body across the bed, arms draped over Fera, snoring loudly into her lover’s ear. Or who’d grumble when Fera got out of bed, lifting the sheets, letting all the warmth dash into the room.
Even grouchy sleepy lazy Gem was still the Gem Fera missed now, the voice over her phone on this Monday night.
“I miss you.”
“I miss you more. We should plan something for when you get back.”
Gem, the schemer. Gem, the big idea girl. Gem, her love.
“Definitely something big. And fun. And with lots of friends.”
“And lots of clean up.”
“You won’t have to do any of it.”
I’ll have to do all of it, thought Fera.
“How about just you and me, Gem. Just you and me in bed, on a chilly morning, watching something unimportant, sipping hot cocoa, snuggled up next to each other.”
“I miss our Sunday mornings, me magically finding you in my sleep.”
“I miss the scent of your hair as you slept, it all tousled about and wild. And the little whisper of your breathing as you drifted off. And how you’d close your fists tight as you slept, as if you were holding onto something and would never let it go.”
“When do you get home?”
“You know, Gem. End of the summer.”
“But it’s so far away.”
“I miss you.”
“I miss you too. But you know I have to go to bed now. Very early morning.”
“I know. I just don’t want to stop talking to you. I don’t want to not hear your voice.”
“Okay. You’re in bed, right?”
“Curl up under the covers.”
“Nice and snuggled?”
“Okay, and so am I. Now, close your eyes. Imagine my arms around you. Imagine my breath on your neck. My face resting in your hair. You can hear my breathing as it slows. As I drift off into sleep with you.”
Fera could hear love’s slowed breathing. Could hear she’d stopped moving. And, a moment later, could hear her Gem fast asleep.
“Goodnight love,” Fera whispered, the sound of Gem sleeping her only needed reply before hanging up the phone.
Categorised as: Gen Fiction
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