I sat up in the big double bed. The soft sheets were crumpled around me. My hair stuck up in an unruly halo around my head. I brushed it absently from my blurry eyes and looked over to where my companion lay, a small smile on my lips.
"Last night was the best night of my life," I whispered. Then I looked again. My hand skittered along the bedside table, urgently grabbing for my glasses. I shoved them into place and everything jumped into focus. The bed was empty. And I wasn't in my bedroom as I had thought. Memories of everything except his blissful final words, his confession from last night were running away from me faster than I could chase them. A small tear threatened to spill from my eye.
"He's gone," I whispered to the room, "He's run away." The tear dripped off my nose and fell onto my bare knee. I was wearing a loose nightshirt. And nothing else. By god, we didn't, did we? It had just been talk! Blissful talk, but that was all, surely? Suddenly my bruised brain was not at all sure that was all it had been. My nose joined in with my eyes and started sniffling.
My head dropped forward onto my drawn up knees and I folded up into myself, crying quietly. "I scared him away. He hates me. I know he must hate me. If he didn't before, well he does now. I knew those things weren't for telling. Even to him. He must think I'm a monster. He must have not been able to look at me, and so he ran away." I sniffed mightily, "And now I'm here..."
Suddenly it was immensely important that I get to a bathroom; a small enclosed space with a lock on the door. I struggled out of bed. My steps were uneven as I crossed the room and peaked around the door of the en suite bathroom. A cloud of steam rose up to greet me as I opened the door. My glasses instantly fogged up. I took them off and took an unsure step into the room. The shower was on. And he was standing under the jet of water. My heart nearly stopped. Relief and joy pounded through my body like a lighting jolt. Adrenaline suddenly dumped into my bloodstream making my heart hammer painfully. I remember to breathe again.
"Hi," I said stupidly. He turned, surprised to see me, and through the steam and the water which was dripping down his face I could see him grin.
"Hi you," he said, "Could you hand me that towel?" I suddenly blushed deep scarlet and turned my back, passing the towel over my shoulder to him. I heard the water stop. Then I felt his wet hand on my cheek, smoothing down my hair. He turned me to face him, studying my face intently, and staring into my eyes. I was held in the grip of his grey ones. I did not want him to see my eyes' red rims or the tears which still hung there, unshed, but there could be no hiding from him.
He saw everything. Wordlessly he drew me into a fierce hug.
"Mel, no. You can't honestly think I'd do that, can you?"
"I don't know what I was thinking. I was all mixed up. Of course not, Denys. I know you. You'd never do that. I just thought, after what I said, what we talked about last night, you may not want me around..." I trailed off weakly, waiting for him to agree.
He laughed, and I felt crushed. But he was not jeering at me. His eyes crinkled and he put a soft hand on my cheek.
"After last night I love you more than ever, silly. I think you are so brave, so strong. You're my best friend. Always have been, right?"
"Of course. Always will be." I repeated the oath we'd made to each other as giggling 5 year olds all those years ago. Now, at 17 I saw that the mischievous little boy was still there, within him. But I could see that there were premature lines on his face from having to grow up too quickly; of one who had seen the grime of life's nasty side too young. And I knew that my face would betray its own scars, that my eyes would be haunted by similar things. I pulled him into a hug, his damp skin soaking me.
"I'm sorry I doubted you. Please forgive me?" He lifted my chin.
"You should never need to ask for forgiveness from me." He leaned down over me, and ever so gently, his lips brushed mine. Nothing more, just a tender touch of lips that was over in a second, but the ghost of it lingered.