kara: a sunny, summer day. the lightest blue sky, no trace of clouds to be seen for miles. the sound of crashing waves, pulsing with with energy. persistent heat, beads of sweat against golden skin. a deep breath of sea salt breeze ripping through blonde curls.
lena: a snowy, winter night. the full moon, stars lighting up the infinite blackness. a blanket of comforting silence, the bite of icy wind stinging rosy cheeks. crackling wood, red flames dancing against forest green.
You wake up to feel a gentle hand brushing softly over your hair and down your back. You can’t help but smile to yourself, nuzzling closer to the warmth of the body beside you to hide your face. Luke hums at your movement, his hand not stopping its soothing movements. You nose the warmth of his neck while your hands find home against the span of his ribs. “Hi,” He whispers softly. “Good morning.”
“Morning,” You reply with a fond smile, lips brushing against the milky skin of Luke’s neck. Goose bumps arise on his skin as you run your finger tips down the length of his arm, before his fingers gets a gentle grip around your wrist, sliding down his palm until your hands were pressed against each other. “How long have you been up?”
“Not long,” He lies through a fake yawn. Truthfully, he’d been up since the sun just began peaking over the horizon, staring down at you in wonder as the light trickled over your skin. His entire body buzzed at the feeling of you pressed up against him for the first time in his bed. He imagined he’d never be able to fall asleep again under these sheets without the thought of you in his head. “Didn’t wanna wake you.”
“You should of-” You begin, tilting your head to look up at him. Your words catch in your throat when you find his eyes already on you, glinting in the pale morning light to shine the lightest shade of sky blue. He blinked slowly, sleepily, his eyelashes just touching his cheek before he was staring down at you again. The corner of his lips kinked up in a small smile as he lifted your hand against his. You watched his fingers straighten against yours, making your hand look so small against his large palm, before he slid his digits between yours. “-should’ve woken me.”
There’s a comfortable silence that falls over the bedroom as you use your free hand to write his name against his shoulder, your eyes following your movement. A long sigh falls from his lips and you look up to see him smiling fondly down at you again. “What?” You ask, feeling your cheeks heat up from his stare.
“I just… I can’t believe you’re here,” Luke admits, his warm breath hitting the top of your head as he noses into your hair. He’s embarrassed, lying here beneath you, baring his heart on his sleeve. He feels vulnerable, naked, almost, and waits for you to scoff or pull away like so many others have done in the past.
“Me too,” You say instead, kissing his chest right above his heartbeat, quick and uneven. Your fingers trail from his heart to his pulse beneath his jaw with a soft smile before whispering, “I can feel your heartbeat. It’s so fast, Luke.”
“It’s ‘cause of you,” He replies, feeling a weight lift off his shoulders. His hand dives beneath your shirt to brush softly over the skin of your back. “I’m just- you have this effect on me.”
You hide your grin in the crook of his neck before reaching for his hand, lifting it to your neck so he could feel the way your heart fluttered in your chest. A soft wow fell off his tongue as he pressed his fingers beneath your jaw. “I could say the same,” You chuckle.
Luke’s hand tangles in your hand as he presses a firm kiss against your forehead. He’s soft, gentle, almost urethral in this white morning glow, without a care in the world to remove him from the warmth beneath the sheets with you. You could lie there forever with him, feeling each other’s quick heart beats, and every brush of skin speaking the words you didn’t have the courage to say. I’m falling for you.
We woke up before dawn on the shortest day of the year and were on the road in the still-dark early sixes. There was almost no color on the highway: trees charcoal, road grey, except for tail lights glowing ahead like hot coals, and finally the lightest blush on the sky. We were on our way to my grandmother’s house – which was sold this fall, which is no longer my grandmother’s house – to make a mission for some wood.
The rich man next door bought the place, and during final times there some months ago, I encountered the architect he hired to design the renovation. These meetings – him knocking on the door, asking if he could take his team around the house – were awful. Of course he was doing his job, but his job was to dismantle my favorite place and it made me sad and mad at everyone, my family for selling the house, the architect, the rich man next door.
During those final times, I sat in the attic with a saw in my hand, trying to summon the nerve to cut pieces of the wall from the house, to take boards with me. Wide boards. Beautiful yellow pine that you cannot find – boards eight feet long, twenty-three inches wide, an inch thick, part of my favorite room in my favorite place. But I couldn’t make the cut. It seemed a violence and a disrespect to this best place, to this beautiful wood that made the walls in this old house. I sat with the saw and stared and when I left the final time, crying and crying, I took no wood with me.
I sent an email to the architect. I apologized for being standoffish. I explained my connection to the place and my deep sadness at the loss. And I told him, there are boards on the wall in the attic, I do not know what the plans are for the renovation, but if you remove those boards, it would mean so much for me to have them. He wrote back. He said he understood. He said he’d set those boards aside.
So on the solstice we made the mission for the wood. Eight boards, between eight and ten feet long, all close to two-feet wide. The contractor, I found out at the last minute, had moved them from the house to his office, which turned out to be a mercy – I did not want to see my grandmother’s house under construction, to see it in the midst of that violence. Jonah helped the whole way, with hefting bundles of boards, with understanding about the sadness.
The first project: I will make tables for my brothers, Will and Sam. I divided one board in half, the best one, the straightest strongest one. I divided the best board and each brother will get a half as a table made of attic wood. The rest are in the basement in a stack, and I’ve gone down to smell them because they smell like the attic, like the best place which is gone, which lives in this small way here, in the smell, in the memories accumulated, in the splintery feel of the wood. The house appears in my dreams nearly now every night.