He puts on a record and cranks the volume. I dive across and turn it down, worried about my sleeping housemates. I am wearing my striped pyjamas. I am ready for bed. I don’t know what’s really happening here, or if anything is happening at all. We are not drunk enough to not care.
He sits on the edge of the bed. He sings the lyrics almost under his breath.
I’m afraid of the dark without you close to me.
I listen to the guitars and to his quiet words. I climb under the quilt, warm and sleepy. He is welcome to stay. He knows this. All he has to do is crawl under the covers and lie down in the space next to me.
We should be whispering all the time.
He shrugs his jeans to the floor and leans back on the bed, still humming. After a time, he wriggles like a caterpillar to cocoon himself under the covers. When his head gets to the pillow he turns to face me. I suddenly feel nervous. I feel unprepared. I’d thought I’d be able to just go to sleep, but my heart is beating too fast. I try to slow my breathing, take deep breaths, all the while acting like I’m cucumber-cool.
We lie there quietly. The words seem to be everywhere around us except in our mouths. I listen for clues in the guitar parts. I try to close my eyes, but there are things that need to be said.
I want to say “This is nice.” And “Being with you like this makes me happy.” And “I am feeling quite hopeful about the future of us.” But none of those things come out of my mouth. It just opens and closes again, and I have to make it into a sort of yawn instead.
Ivan chews his lip, and then he opens his mouth in a way that makes me think he is going to say something really important, but he just says “What a good night,” and lies his head back down on the pillow. I “Mmm” my agreement and we both stare up at the ceiling. The space between us fills up with electricity and creates a point beyond which neither of us can cross. This space crackles away long after the lights have gone out.