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Just a Kiss

She woke to a touch, the backs of her fingers caressing her cheek. They hesitated at her jaw line, until there was nothing but her presence. She could sense her there, so close that she didn’t dare open her eyes, even when she moved so close that her lips almost touched hers. Almost. She could feel them, waiting, hovering, feel her breath mingling softly with hers. So close that it was almost a kiss anyway. The ghost of a kiss, where only the barest particles of non-matter separated their lips from touching, but that didn’t matter, because in spirit there was heat and passion and more than just the hint of their lips brushing together.

Her sigh as she moved away was almost a whimper. She made a noise, a quiet half laugh that was so familiar that even with her eyes still closed, she knew she was smiling, one corner of her mouth twitching up, her eyes overflowing with her unshared laugh. The memory made her own mouth turn up at the ends, the happiness of this single moment enough. But she wanted more, needed to feel her touch, and once again she anticipated her. The pad of her thumb stroked down, following the laugh-lines beside her mouth, and then across her bottom lip. Her mouth opened with a different kind of sigh, the kind that was an invitation.

Her thumb stroked her lip once, twice, and then fell away. The evening sun brightened suddenly on her face, as though it had moved beyond whatever impeded it. Her face fell, eyebrows crushing together and eyes squeezing tight. She knew what she would find when she opened her eyes, so she avoided it as long as she could. But the sun was almost gone, the air taking on that cool quality that spoke of chilly summer nights in the mountains. The kind she’d always loved, when they’d lit a fire and stayed outside until the moon was high and the stars so bright it created a different world.

The breeze danced across her skin, giving her goosebumps, and she finally opened her eyes. The porch was empty, the yard quiet. She was alone, as she knew she would be. She wouldn’t ever see her again, not in the waking world. Even in her dreams she was strangely absent, only visiting in that half-a-moment between waking and dreaming. She sighed again, a third sigh, a sigh of loss and heartache. Her hand came up to her face, trying to capture the memory of her touch, a touch she’d never feel again.

The tear that slid down from the corner of her eye wasn’t unexpected. She’d shed so many for her, didn’t think she’d ever stop. Her world was so much smaller, without her in it. So she lived for those moments where she could almost feel her, and waited.

The sun brightened again as it sank beyond the mountains, and she pushed herself up, shivering. It was too cold to stay out longer, and there no reason to. The moment had passed.

But one day, she’d come, in that not-waking-not-dreaming-half-moment, and she’d touch her like she used to.

And she’d finally go with her.

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