I sit on the edge of the pallet and look down at Tomas. So beautiful when he sleeps. It’s the only time I ever really see his face at peace.
My eyes move from his closed eyes and slightly open mouth to my own hands. They are cupped together in my lap, forming a cocoon around the gift I have brought him. The gift I am not sure he will want. The gift I am not sure I should have brought him.
I catch my bottom lip between my teeth, worry the delicate tissue until I feel the trickle of warmth, taste the tang of blood. I lick my lips and blow out a breath.
His eyelids flicker, but don’t open.
I shift my hands so that the gift is held in only my left hand and use my right to brush across his brow. “Tomas. Wake up.”
He still doesn’t open his eyes. His breathing has not changed. So I lean forward and rest my lips against his.
I feel him pull in a deep breath, feel his lips curve into a smile against my mouth. “Good morning,” I whisper.
“Good morning to you, too.” I feel his arms curl around my back. He pulls me close, tucks me into the space at his side, my head under his chin. “Your skin is freezing,” he says and rubs my arm to drive away the gooseflesh.
“It’s cold outside.” I pretend that it’s not cold in our home. We both do.
“What were you doing outside?” Tomas pulls back so that he can see my face. He knows I can’t lie if he’s looking at me.
“I ran an errand.”
He raises an eyebrow and waits. I wait longer.
“Where did you go?”
My eyes flicker away from his and I bite my lip again. His hand moves to my chin, pulls my lip free. “Kell. Where did you go?”
“To the store.”
Tomas pulls his arm from under my head and sits up, his legs crossed in front of him. I mirror his movements so that we end up sitting face to face. I take a deep breath. The gift is heavy in my hand.
“The store.” He says it as a statement. In reality, it is a very loaded question.
I nod. “I got you a gift.” My hand shakes as I hold it out to him. I turn my hand over and uncurl my fingers, exposing the gift resting on my palm. “I got two.”
My eyes are locked on his eyes. His eyes are locked on my hand.
“We can do it together,” I say when he remains silent and still.
He finally moves. His hand reaches for mine and curls my fingers back over the two blue pills nestled in the palm of my hand.
Once the pills are out of sight he finally looks at me. “Kell.” Again his statement is a question. How? Why? I hear these and a hundred other questions in the one syllable of my name.
“This is our chance to start over, Tomas. We can have a new beginning. Leave this behind us.” I look away from his face, the only thing I don’t want to leave behind. Everything else I see I would pay to forget. I already have.
“We had just enough for two.” I can’t look at him when I say this. Can’t see his face when he realizes I have trapped him into agreeing. Either we take the pills or we starve.
I feel his gaze heavy on my face. Then the gentle brush of his fingers across my cheek. “Okay,” he breathes. I don’t like the sound of resignation in his voice. The guilt that coils in my gut in response.
The sooner we take the pills, the sooner the memory of this moment, this betrayal, will be wiped from both of our minds. We will be reset.
“They’ll keep us together,” I offer. “Any washed that are found together are planted together, right? We’ll just start over. Fresh. Not here.” I keep trying to break his silence. “I love you.”
Tomas pulls my fingers open and takes one of the pills between his thumb and forefinger. “Remember me,” he says. We swallow the pills.
I lean across the gulf between us and kiss him. I hope the warmth of him on my lips will stay with me, be the first thing I feel when I wake anew.
We tip to our sides. We are gone.