He is trying to imagine her as the person she was when she met him, the younger woman who lived in a city he has never been to, walking down streets he sees as children's drawings. He thinks of these places she tells him about in pen and ink with their names underneath them.
He realizes that she has stopped talking, and is looking at him.
"I can stop, if you're tired."
"No, I was thinking. Don't stop."
She could never stop, she thinks. She would tell him every story she has ever known, if it will keep him lying next to her in this bed. She remembers the first time she lay in bed with a boy, it was someone else's boyfriend, not hers, and she was lying on the other side of him. They were watching a movie in his room, and she felt the bed sink under his weight like waves through her entire body, and suddenly her fifteen year-old self understood everything, why you would want this, why you want the intimacy of someone lying next to you more than anything else in the world.
Now he is looking at her. "Maybe we should sleep." he says.
"I can't. Could you?"
"We should, I think. I'm going to try. I'll leave the light on for you."
She thinks very, very quickly for a moment. She thinks of her body bent perpetually toward him, she thinks of the way he weighs down the bed next to her. She thinks of what she has to lose, which is at the moment is everything.
She puts her hand on his chest, unwilling to place any more of her body on him than she has to. She wishes more than anything that he had begun this instead of her.
He wishes more than anything that he had begun this instead of her. He is at a loss.
"I don't want to sleep."
"I don't know if we should do this."
Her hand is still on his chest. She thinks she should be able to feel his heart beating faster. She thinks it should definitely be beating faster.
She has planned this for a very long time now, and she can think, she is sure, of literally no other way. She keeps her hand where it is and moves closer to him.
Move, he thinks. Do something. Come up with something to do. He wants to turn and look at her face, but he thinks that if he sees her, there will be no way out of this. Maybe if he closes his eyes, she'll get up and leave. Maybe he could get up and leave. He cannot figure a way out from under her hand on his chest. He hopes, hopes more than anything, that he's not hurting her by doing this. He knows he is.
She curls her fingers. This was the wrong thing to do. She should have just ignored it. She should have slept on the couch. She should have slept on the street. He takes her hand.
"I don't know. Maybe we shouldn't - "
"You're holding my hand."
He can hear the disbelief in her voice. He wonders when their lives got to the point where it was remarkable that he would hold her hand. He is holding her hand. The first time he took her hand it was in a bar, briefly, to measure how small her fingers were against his own. They are still quite small`.
They lie on the bed, her hand held against his chest. She moves closer and puts her head on his shoulder. He can smell her hair.