The soft multicoloured glow from the telephone’s screen saver lit the room as she lay in his arms. He held her as though she were made of the finest spun glass, delicate and precious to him. He smoothed her hair away from her face and squeezed a little then sang the soft words of Journey’s “Open Arms” into the hollow behind her ear. Tears shone in her eyes and she was glad that her face was turned into his shoulder. He was quickly becoming her rock, he, the one who had never stepped close enough to see the smile that was only for him when they met. He was the one who should have been; the one who got away.
As he held this woman in his arms, he could not help but wonder at the changes that time had wrought. Not just physical, but the mental and social differences. When they met he would speak to her and she was so shy it was painful to be around, but now-she opened up to him with bleeding alacrity, the wounds still seeping, as though they did not matter—as though she did not matter, either. He pulled her closer into his arms, shocking himself. He did not cuddle. It was a rule. Nothing good came of giving your heart and soul to someone who would only hurt you in the end, and reaching out to pull someone closer did not feel natural. As he thought, he began to sing into her hair softly. “Open Arms” was playing through Pandora on his phone. His head spun with the memories of the evening-conversations on everything from ocean life to cosmology to religion and food. Their loving was especially sweet-the woman in his arms reached for him again and again and he was able to give to her what she needed—what he too needed as he began to feel again.
Too long were they alone. Now they were here together and had each other to count on. Friends always. Perhaps more in the future, but for now, the benefits of friendship were multiplied only by their ability to heap upon each other that which they themselves have been missing.