After four months on night shift, asleep when she was awake, awake when she was going to bed, Gordon rose to find Sophie still at home.

‘Soph. Wh——’

‘I took the afternoon off.’

‘Is everything alright?’

‘What do you think?’ she said. ‘We see each other only in a daze. We don’t talk. We leave notes.’

‘We must work.’

‘Gordon, are you still happy?’

Through all they’d shared—the war, the lost ones, their finding hope in this strange country—it was the first time she’d seen his tears. ‘I arrive home and you are asleep,’ he said. ‘You are so beautiful I dare not touch you. I dare not wake you. And then when I wake you are gone.’

‘Promise me something,’ said Sophie. ‘Every night, when you come home, you will come beside me, and put your arms around me. You will smell my hair like you used to. And every morning, before I get up, I will kiss you. Then we will each know.’

Gordon wrapped his big hands around her and wept.

When he embraced her again, early next morning, she let him think her asleep. And later, when she kissed him, he kept his breath steady, disclosing nothing. In this way they remembered what they’d slowly been forgetting. How lucky they were.

 

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (smallstoriesaboutlove.wordpress.com)

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