ylan lay on his bed thinking about her; it had been one day since she left. He could still feel her imprints on his skin, the touch that gave him life. It was as if there was a constant shadow on his body he could feel, but every time he opened his eyes, there was nothing. It was empty space.
Savannah stared at her desk. She was all alone in her room. All the memories sank her spirit into an abyss of need. She needed him at that moment, but he wasn’t there. She hadn’t washed her neck; she wanted his saliva to stain her forever. Every once in a while, she would laugh at herself for acting childishly. Those were moments of relief, when she allowed herself to see humor in the situation. But soon, the pang of need would stab, and her gaze would return to nothingness.
He missed her so much. She missed him so much. No tears were spared, no memories forgotten. Savannah could not unfeel his hands on her hips, and Dylan couldn’t unfeel the way her long hair brushed against his face when they tasted each other. They were both so sad.
They had been dating for a little more than a year when their separation began. They’d met while pursuing their undergraduate degrees in New York. After graduation, however, Savannah stayed in New York and Dylan had to move to Baltimore for medical school. Though they still felt strongly about each other, long distance proved to be much more challenging than either of them had anticipated.
They had been dating for a little more than a year when their separation began.
The relationship turned into periodic weekend get-togethers when Savannah would leave New York to visit Dylan in Baltimore. Outside of their sporadic meet-ups, they would talk on FaceTime almost every night. But their nightly calls soon became dull. Savannah would make an effort to create interesting conversations, and although Dylan appreciated the effort, it seemed too forced to him. His mind would fill with doubt.
She’s getting bored of me. Other guys must be hitting on her in New York. I’m holding her back. I love her — but maybe that’s not enough.
When Dylan felt this way, his mood crumbled, and with it, their conversations would too. Savannah wouldn’t be able to get a word out of him beside the occasional grunt of agreement, and this gave rise to doubts of her own.
Maybe he’s talking to someone else. He doesn’t care about me; he puts in no effort. He seems so distant.
One night, after a week of futile conversations, Savannah told Dylan that she would visit him in Baltimore next weekend, so that they could talk in person. Hiding his nervousness, he agreed; although Savannah had only ever asked for openness and honesty from him, Dylan rarely felt comfortable sharing his thoughts, and she knew this.
One night, after a week of futile conversations, Savannah told Dylan that she would visit him in Baltimore next weekend, so that they could talk in person.
At last, the weekend came, and Savannah arrived at his apartment and knocked on the door. Her hands were shaking, and she didn’t know why. She didn’t know what to expect. Should she kiss him? Or should she wait for him to kiss her?
Deep breath in. She listened to his footsteps approaching.
Deep breath out. She listened to the locks unlocking.
After what felt like forever, the door finally opened, and there he stood in front of her, smiling just the way she knew.
“Hi, how are you?” he asked, going in for a hug.
She hugged him back. “Good. The drive was long.”
Dylan picked up her bags and made way for her to enter his apartment, which he had put a lot of effort into cleaning before her arrival. Dylan stared at her back and found himself breathless. He had forgotten how beautiful she was in person. For the first time in weeks, he noticed the curve of her waist, her willowy arms and the curls in her hair. Savannah turned around and caught him staring.
Dylan stared at her back and found himself breathless. He had forgotten how beautiful she was in person.
“What?” she said.
He put her bags on the couch. “Nothing. Just distracted.”
She smiled. She wasn’t sure what Dylan had been thinking, but the fact that he was looking at her felt like a good thing. It felt familiar.
He walked past her to get to the kitchen. “You want something to drink?”
“No, I’m okay, thanks. I ate on the way.”
Dylan nodded, and then became spellbound again, this time by her smell — a musky floral scent that flooded his mind as Savannah came closer to him.
She would have laughed, but there was a lump in her throat. “Why haven’t you kissed me yet?”
Dylan studied her face. A pale oval with auburn hair and blue eyes. He found himself lost in her geometry — her straight nose, her small lips, her round mouth, the tiny mole she had next to her left eye — even her cute ears. He put both his thumbs on her cheekbones and slowly ran them down her face to her jaw. Then he leaned in.
There were no rules, only the smashing of lips. Their mouths moved like two hands rubbing together in the cold of winter. Their kisses were messy, disorganized, a sign of their time apart. But in this disorder, they felt so whole.
Dylan pulled away to look into Savannah’s blue eyes.
“What?” she asked.
He smiled. “Nothing, just distracted.”
She turned her head away from him and acted embarrassed. “Stop it.”
“Stop it!” she said playfully.
Dylan’s eyes didn’t move.
Savannah turned back toward him and let her gaze meet his. It felt like liberty, like staring at the sea or the trees or a mountaintop sunset — like they were everything and nothing all at once.
As their eyes stayed in position, Dylan’s hands began to explore their territory. Savannah’s breath deepened; she grabbed the back of his head and pulled him toward his bedroom. Gradually, their clothes fell off, and Dylan gave Savannah a look that only they could understand.
It felt like liberty, like staring at the sea or the trees or a mountaintop sunset — like they were everything and nothing all at once.
She nodded, quickly, and he lifted her onto his bed.
Every single part of their bodies was being touched. Everything was being kissed.
They held each other tightly, and their animalistic noises filled the room. Only the squeaking of the bed reminded them that they were still on earth.
Eventually, when their bodies sighed and relaxed into each other’s chests, they lay with their eyes turned up toward the ceiling.
Savannah sensed Dylan’s hidden distance by his pursed lips and heavy breathing. She stared at him, trying to reach his eyes, but he kept them to himself, awkwardly humming a random tune.
“What’s wrong?” asked Savannah looking at Dylan’s contemplative face.
“Nothing at all. Everything’s perfect,” he said matter-of-factly.
“You look thoughtful.”
“Nah, just happy.”
“Tell me what you’re thinking,” she said.
He looked at her. “I’m thinking about how stupid I am.”
“I didn’t think you wanted me anymore.”
She paused before responding. Though her voice was even, she couldn’t conceal her annoyance. “Why would you think that?”
“I don’t know.” He tightened his grip on her hand, “This long-distance thing is hard as hell. But being here with you changes everything. I’m not worried anymore.”
Closing her eyes, Savannah put her head on his chest. “When I’m away, I can’t do anything for you. I wish I could crawl into your head and find out what you’re thinking.”
“There’s not much in there,” said Dylan.
“Dylan, I know by now when you’re holding something back,” Savannah said, raising her head from his chest to look into his brown eyes. “Tell me what’s bothering you. Please.”
He felt the room go still, and the light on the ceiling seemed to brighten. Though he knew she was right, he found himself silent, turning his face away from the glare.
Savannah needed an answer. His silence frightened her. “Say something,” she said.
“What do you want to hear?”
Something flared in the pit of her stomach, and she recoiled from him. “What is that supposed to mean? It’s not about what I want to hear. I want to know what you’re feeling.”
Dylan sighed. “Savannah, I’m sorry. I just don’t know what to say.”
“Say anything,” she said. “When I’m in New York, I feel like I barely know you anymore. I tell myself it’s probably the distance, but I know that’s not everything. There’s more, and I don’t know what to do about it.”
Dylan loved her so much, but he didn’t know how to show her. He always said I love you, but those were merely words, and he knew the emptiness of a word if there was no action that followed.
Dylan loved her so much, but he didn’t know how to show her.
He believed that if he thought hard enough, he would eventually find the perfect solution. But Dylan had been thinking for weeks, and it had come to naught. He knew his silence wasn’t helping the situation. He had to say something.
“About?” she asked.
“I lied about being okay,” Dylan admitted. “You’re right. There’s still doubt in me, and you being here doesn’t take it away. It just magnifies it.” He sat up to get closer to her, “When you leave in a couple of days, I won’t be able to focus on anything. You’ll not only be in my head, but a tattoo of your body will linger on me… there’s no FaceTime call that can fix that.”
The things he said made Savannah feel wanted, needed, but she knew it wasn’t good for him. The hard, unspoken truth was that it didn’t matter how strong their feelings were; their situation was out of their control. This is what kept Savannah asking Dylan questions: she just wanted to hear him speak so that she could feel useful. This is also what kept Dylan quiet: he knew nothing he said or did would stop him from feeling depressed or anxious when she left. It didn’t matter how much he trusted her; he was going to feel alone and unsure.
The things he said made Savannah feel wanted, needed, but she knew it wasn’t good for him. The hard, unspoken truth was that it didn’t matter how strong their feelings were; their situation was out of their control.
“Enjoy it,” Savannah eventually said.
Dylan pulled back a little to look quizzically at her. “What?”
“Enjoy the feeling of doubt and insecurity. It will end one day, you know.”
He lowered his eyes. “It doesn’t seem that way. When I’m with you time passes by fast and when you’re away it’s slow.”
“I know, but listen to me: one day you’ll have me. I’ll be around you all the time. You’ll get annoyed with me and need time alone.” Savannah made Dylan look at her. “Then you’ll remember the times we were apart and regret not enjoying them.”
He stared at her with a tender smile.
Savannah let herself laugh, but then her face grew somber again. “No, seriously, Dylan. Enjoy the horrible feeling of need. The pain that you’ll feel when I’m gone. I know I will.”
Dylan leaned into her shoulder and closed his eyes. “I can’t enjoy something I hate so much.”
“I know that when I leave, I’ll cry on the drive back. I’ll listen to depressing music and remember each detail of our weekend together.” She lifted his head from her shoulder and held his face. “I’ll think about the chance of you dying in some random accident, which will make me cry even more. Then, I’ll be home and still smell you on me, and I’ll miss you so much that it hurts.”
He ran his hands through her hair, and Savannah’s eyes turned crystal clear as she spoke. “I’ll think the pain is too much, but I’ll tell myself to enjoy the feelings because one day you’ll be sleeping next to me — every night. One day I won’t be able to miss your touch because I’ll have it all the time. And these will be the days when I did the impossible with you because I love you.”
Suddenly, the room became warmer, and the lights seemed to dim. The outside noises disappeared, and Dylan’s fear and feeble thoughts died with them. Instead, his spirit rose, and he felt his heart dancing to the sight of Savannah. He brought her closer to him, and she put her legs around his waist as she sat on his thighs, and for a long while they just looked at each other.
“It’s love, isn’t it?” he said.
She kissed him.
Their doubt had faded, and their fences had been torn down. Time became a memory; fast or slow, real or false — none of it mattered. All they cared about was the constant movement of their eyes following each other, and it created a feeling of absolute gratification.
“You’re mine,” he said.
She put her hand on his left cheek, “Yes, and you’re mine.”
Later that night, holding each other, another impenetrable craving for the taste of their skin surrounded their space.
And then they lost themselves in the bountifulness of their bodies.