Henry was lying next to Fiona on the couch. The room was dark and the TV was playing the newest episode of their favourite show. Fiona was almost painfully aware of how close she was to Henry. The two of them had never been this close before – there had only ever been a tension from far away. Across the room, through glances or just over texts. Now, his arm was brushing against hers and she could feel his warmth on her own skin, making it difficult to think straight. As the episode went on, she noticed Henry shifting his weight and moving closer to her. Both of them kept their eyes locked on the screen, but her heart was beating wildly.
I kept sneaking peaks at her, watching her as she watched the show. Our arms were touching and my leg was pressed against hers on the narrow couch. I couldn’t believe that this was happening. We had gone back and forth for so long, but I had never had the guts to get this close to her. The sparks that jolted through me every time she moved a little closer to me made it hard to breathe and I struggled to stay calm. The episode was close to an hour long and we were just lying next to one another, not once acknowledging whatever this was. Every now and then, someone from the couch would comment on something that happened in the episode, and one of us would reply. And even if we talked directly to one another – our eyes stayed glued to the screen or anywhere else that wasn’t each other’s faces.
Then, at some point, she got up to get some water.
The second she left, the cold that replaced where her body had just been; where her warmth had just been, was overwhelming. When she came back, I was scared she would sit down somewhere else and leave me lying there by myself.
Fiona returned from the kitchen with two glasses of water and set them down on the coffee table in front of the couch. She looked at Henry from the side and wondered if it would be weird to lie back down in the same spot she had been in before without saying anything. The waters they were treading in were unknown and she did not know how to act normal around him, especially because she didn’t know what their normal was. But despite not wanting to make things even weirder, she realised she couldn’t resist being that close to him again, and so she laid back down next to him, shoulders touching.
When he scooted over to make more space for her, she felt herself let go of a breath she hadn’t known she’d held and relaxed just a bit. With a glance at the time bar at the bottom of the screen, Fiona suddenly felt a sadness flood through her when she saw that the episode was nearly over. She didn’t want this to end. She wanted to lie there for the rest of the night and not have him leave. For a second, she closed her eyes and made herself remember every detail of that moment. Like in the movies, she thought. She inched yet a bit closer to him.
My heart was freaking out. I kind of couldn’t believe that she came back to me. I think maybe I was worried the first time lying next to me had somehow been an accident and getting a glass of water had made her realise what a huge mistake she had made. But not only did she come back, she also came closer. I found myself wondering when this would ever turn into something more. Something so real and undeniable that not talking about it was impossible. And then I found myself yearning for a time turner. How did we end up in this place? Neither of us was really ready for any kind of commitment and yet, every time we saw each other, there was this insane connection that I knew I couldn’t even shake if I wanted to. Because I had wanted to, and I had tried. And I had failed every damn time.
The longer they laid there, the more anxious Fiona got about the episode ending and that moment passing. She felt a desperation forming around her heart that was yelling at her to do something before it was over. To just give him a sign that was clearer even than lying next to him. A sign that told him she was still in. That she wasn’t going anywhere, even if she wasn’t physically present. That there was this spot reserved for only him in her heart. She needed him to know.
It felt impossible.
Fiona took a deep breath and slowly moved her palm so that it faced down. Time seemed to be standing still and rushing forward at the same time as she tentatively moved her hand over and locked her pinky with his. She held her breath and squeezed her eyes shut to brace herself for Henry’s reaction.
The noise on from the TV seemed far in the distance, unlike the uneven breaths she heard from both Henry and herself. Only a second passed before she felt his hand turn. He slid his fingers through hers and held onto her tightly.
She held my hand, and I knew.