"It's okay to fall in love, you know." He said this with the hint of a playful smile gracing the outer tips of his bright blue eyes. She stared at him, his eyes, his nose, his chin, then finally his lips, as his smile faded and he slowly turned to leave.
"Prove it," she said in haste as she watched him turn her doorknob and walk out her front door into the cold, dark night.
She stood there watching his shadow cross her stone walkway, now a memory of another late night spent alone. She closed the door behind him and watched as he started his car and sat there for a few minutes, phone in hand, answering texts. She wondered who they were to, but never dared to ask. Another "booty call?" Another "friend in need?" His son? His daughter? His ex?
She turned to face the emptiness of her house, too big for a single woman alone, too small for her emotions and pain, but just right for all the accumulated shit from years of a broken marriage and subsequent relationships. She examined her hands. The hands that touched him. The hands that explored. She smelled him on her clothes and in her hair. She breathed him in.One.Last.Time. That night.
The path to emotional openness is not an easy one. Years of building a wall around your heart, only to have them torn down in a single moment, then crushed and built again. Only this time sturdier. Thicker. No small pockets of hints and tiny openings where someone can peak through and start whittling away at it. No small offerings of escape. Or hope. Walls. Nothing but walls.
She contemplated texting him. Thanking him for a night well spent. Is that what people do? Thank their friends-with-benefits for sex? Possible hints at something more? Or wait at least a week, before the next text of, "hey, wanna come over?" Is there mutual respect?
In the moments of raw passion, yes, there are moments of mutual respect. Respect that the two of you can keep it on this level. That's what makes the sex more passionate. It's all a secret. It's all hidden. No one else knows. You respect each other on that level.
She checked her phone. Of course, there were no texts. Nothing indicating he'd arrived home safely. No one texting her, "good night." She undressed herself, yet again, and stepped into the shower. The warm water cleansed her being of the emotions that ran through her body. They washed down the drain and she, once again, regained her own respect. She stood up straight and planned her schedule for the next day. As she stepped out of the shower, she checked her phone, a habit and yet a need. No texts from him, but she did receive something. From another friend-with-benefits. "When can I see you?"
She set her phone down. Pulled the towel from her wet body and stared at herself in the mirror. "Is this really me?" she asked. Successful. Beautiful. Powerful. Wanted.
She dried her hair and slowly applied lotion to her drying skin. She looked at her gracefully sagging boobs and that waist that she can't quite perfect. She picked up her phone, "tonight?"