I heard footsteps on the porch and opened my eyes. I waited a few seconds, but you didn't knock. Was it someone else?
I stood up, quietly. Please don't be a murderer.
I looked through the peephole and saw you standing at the door. You were debating whether or not to knock.
As you raised your hand, I said through the door, "Hey."
You put your hand down and looked back at me, even though you couldn't see me. Two inches of door separated our faces.
"What are you doing in the dark," you asked.
"There's a surprise party starting soon and you're going to ruin the surprise."
"I'm the one you're surprising!" Your enthusiasm filled my heart and annoyed me at the same time. I smiled despite myself. Butterflies flittered in my belly, glad you were back. Traitors, all of you.
"Why didn't you leave?"
"I tried to. I got to my car and realized I haven't said everything."
"It will only make this harder."
You sighed and closed your eyes. "I know," you whispered.
I was quiet.
"I never wanted to hurt you. Can I come in?"
"No," I whispered back.
I put my hand on the doorknob. I couldn't remember how many times you'd been in my house, how many times we made dinner, grilled in the backyard, had friends over, stayed up late talking.
How many times you and I tangled ourselves in my bed and whispered to each other.
But everything was different now.
I took my hand off the doorknob and stood up straight.
I stepped back from the door.
And then I opened it.
You stood with your arms braced against the door jambs.
"It was unlocked this whole time?"
"How often do I remember to lock the door?"
"Less than I'd like," you said protectively.
"I'm getting better."
You looked at me and held your finger and thumb about an inch apart. "True. Ish."
"Can we go for a walk? I'm all back and forth and jittery now."
"Yeah." There were some quiet streets on the way to sandy dunes. We made a habit of going for a run down to the beach.
"Lemme change my shoes."
"They're in the back by the hose." That you knew what I was looking for and where to find my running shoes was both comforting and painful now. I saw it register on your face, too.
"I'll be back in a sec." You nodded back at me, stepping away. I left the front door open and went to my bedroom to change.
I came back in yoga pants and a hoodie, barefoot with a pair of socks in my hands. All of a sudden I realized nights like this weren't going to happen again.
I needed cold water. That would fix everything. I turned to the kitchen and walked to the fridge and called out to you. "Do you want some water?"
What the hell are you doing, girl. Offering him water? The man is in the process of breaking your heart.
Yeah, but I don't need to be a dick about it.
You were leaning against the couch, as unsure as I was. The front door was still open, as though we wouldn't make a scene in public.