I wake up early, like I always do. The beams of sunlight surround me like a blanket as I glance over at Emily, who is softly snoring next to me. Every one of my senses is heightened; I can hear the girls upstairs whispering foreign words and scraping their cereal bowls with spoons. In the glow of the daylight I feel whole again.
I stretch out my arms and watch as my hand slowly blurs. Like my memory, it remains just out of focus. I clasp my fist around air and close my eyes. I think I fell in love last night.
How do I know? I remember little things.
I remember you were laughing and I looked over and saw you, and I thought you might have the kind of smile that could change my life if I let it. The kind of smile I’d be willing to spend my whole life looking at, working hard to make you laugh so I could claim part of that silly grin as my own.
I remember laughing about something so hard I couldn’t breathe, and you reached over and put your hand on my knee, with amusement in your eyes, and asked me if I was okay. As I nodded our eyes met and and the place where our bodies connected began to glow like the kindling of a fire, like water that had just begun to simmer.
I remember resting on the arm of the couch and you sitting down next to me, the two of us ignoring all the heated conversation around us. After what felt like a lifetime I slid sideways off the arm until every nerve in my body sparked and buzzed toward yours. When I looked up into your eyes and the corners of your mouth curled up curiously, I was overcome with the desire to dive in and taste every bit of you. I couldn’t help thinking if everyone else were to suddenly disappear I would have reached out and traced the outline of your lips with my finger, capturing every inch of your perfection before it was gone.
I remember, at the end of the night, when you got up to leave and my entire left side ached from the constant tingling. For the past several minutes we hadn’t said one word to each other, only passed a Rubik’s cube back and forth as we both struggled to finish it, neither of us remembering how to finish the top layer. We understood each other. We were both a little lost.
I don’t know. Maybe that isn’t love. I have nothing to compare it to.
Emily stirs next to me. She feels the sun too, I know, and she is probably recalling the night’s events with the same fuzzy wonderment. I peek over at her, but do not speak. How can I tell her that I have fallen in love with a stranger?
It is almost certain that I will never see him again. Someone else will spend their life sharing his perfect smile and quiet confidence. I will never get the satisfaction of knowing I captivate him, too, never know the thrill of more than just a static touch. If it is love, it is only a small and unsatisfying taste that leaves me desperate to feel it again and again and again.
In my mind I have captured the night in powerful vignettes, memories that I will always recall as my first taste of love. Although I am awake, I roll silently onto my side and drift off again, not into sleep, but into possibility. For the first time in a long time, I do not give up hope.