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Need You Now

Maria Nestorides | Alankrita Amaya

The ice cubes in the whisky clink as I swirl the glass in my hand. The numbness has started to spread through my body and I welcome it. Each sip of the amber liquid mutes the ache that has throbbed through my body since you left. My back aches as I sit slumped against the wall. There are photos of us on the floor next to me: one where you’re smiling up at me, another where you’re kissing me. There’s another pile of photos next to those — you know, the ones we took on the weekend when you’d booked us into that spa. In one of the photos you’re peering out at me from behind an enormous bunch of daisies with that comical expression you sometimes use that always makes me laugh.

My hand reaches for the phone and stops. I have no right to call you after what I did. My fingers curl into a fist, I down another glass of whisky and immediately slosh another shot into the glass. If I drink enough, maybe I will forget what I’ve thrown away, what an idiot I’ve been. Have you been thinking of me? Have you been lying in bed, wanting me? Have you been staring at the door, willing it to open, to see me standing there? No, of course you haven’t. How stupid of me. That would be me.

The sun’s rays creep into the room and graze a steady path across the room and I’m relieved when the mantle of nighttime extinguishes them. But this is only temporary because, all too quickly, the room is invaded by the iridescent beams of moonlight. If I could, I’d get up and yank the curtains shut to seal any light out of my life.

Again, my hand reaches for the phone. This time I punch out your number and let it ring. There’s no answer and it goes through to your machine. When I hear your voice, I exhale sharply and realise that I’ve been holding my breath. I close my eyes as the sweetness of your voice trickles over me, filling me with longing for you. I don’t know what I say, a jumble of words tumbles out of my mouth and the only thing I know is that when I’m done, tears are streaming down my face, there is a lump the size of a golf ball in my throat and when I hang up, my body heaves with sobs. How many ways are there to say sorry, that I was stupid, that I never meant to hurt you, that he didn’t mean anything to me?

In my drunken sleep, I dream of you and me together again, and the feeling I get reminds me of a dream I used to have as a child where I could fly.

I wake up with my mouth dry, my head pounding and my skin prickling with cold. The clock on the wall says 1.15am. Another few hours and the sun will be up to torment me again. I fall asleep again but wake when I hear the sound of a key in the door. I look up at the clock. It’s 4am.

“Jamie?” My voice comes out in a croak.

It can’t be you, who am I kidding?

A familiar scent drifts towards me: the scent of cotton and musk mingled with the fresh outdoors. Your scent. Even in my alcohol-induced grogginess I recognize it and jerk my head up to see your silhouette. The emotional turmoil of the week ignites inside my head. I start to shake. My tongue feels singed and barren. All I manage to make it say is “Why are you here?”

You squat down on your haunches and place your palms on your thighs.

“I… don’t know,” you say.

I sit up. “I’m so sor-“

“Sh, sh, sh.” You interrupt me and place a finger on my lips.

Your eyes are filled with pain that I put there.

Your voice is hoarse. “I got your message,’ you say.

Again I try to speak but you stop me.

“It took you a week to call me, for Chrissake?”

I search your face and I’m surprised to see a calmness about you, as if you’ve harrowed and are resigned to an inevitable decision.

Your fingers trace the outline of my lips and move down to caress the curve of my chin. “It seems I love you more than I thought,” you say and smile a sad smile, as if the words coming from your mouth amaze even you.

“I love you, too,” I whisper. My hands skim over your thighs to clasp yours.

“That’s all I need to know,” you say.

Are you really here? You seem so real. I’ve had way too much whisky and I must be imagining it all.

Your lips briefly brush against mine, your kiss tentative at first, turning deeper, more urgent. My body hums in response to yours and I feel your fingers grip the back of my neck as you pull me closer.

“I… won’t be able to bear it if it happens again,” you murmur against my lips.

Your eyes meet mine with an intensity that jolts me.

‘Promise me it won’t happen again. Promise me you’ll always be mine,’ you whisper into my hair, spreading kisses over my face, onto my neck.

“I promise,” I say.

About Maria Nestorides

Maria Nestorides lives in sunny Cyprus with her husband and two teenage children. Her short stories ‘Red Letter Day’ and 'Voodoo Heads' were published online by 'Five Stop Story', and she contributed a six-word memoir to the book ‘Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak: by Writers Famous and Obscure’, by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser (Jan 6, 2009). Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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