Rachel M. Reis


MAKE NO MISTAKE – he tells you how to love him.

You may not be listening when he tells you, but he’s telling you every day. With every text, every word, every desire and hypothetical mentioned. He’s telling you what’s important to him. He’s telling you how he wants to feel you.

You were so excited for this night. And now its here.

He asks if it was okay to take off shirt so that he could sleep next to you. It’s endearing. Because he knows that you’re not good at this. You’re inexperienced – you’ve only laid next to one man before. So he’s making sure you’re okay with every move.

When he takes off his shirt, you realize that his freckles are the constellations you learned as a girl. So you trace them with your finger. Get them right. Memorize it. Don’t forget him. You may not have this many more times.

You’re under sheets with him, breathing in his scent. He’s sweaty. Snoring slightly. You sense that he needs to be held this night. Deeply. Richly. So that he feels it in every ounce of him. Even though he might feel alone in the universe, you want him to know he’s not alone. Your touch wakes him so he moves to be closer to you.

The world is out there. And you’re in here – together. Take this moment in.

The lines of his body feel like something that’s only written about in books you read as a girl. Dirty romance novels that you shouldn’t have touched, but you did anyway.  The stories talked about how men can feel hard and soft at the same time. And now you’re here, feeling it with your own hands. He’s so strong. But the things he tells you – my God, he’s fragile.

How is that possible? For someone to be so strong, yet so soft? It’s quite unnerving. Knowing that the strongest things might fold underneath your touch. It’s something else, without comparison, rhyme or reason. He’s malleable. And you can either build him up, or tear him down more by walking away because things are complicated.

There’s something that you don’t quite understand. So you have to ask. While he’s drifting off to sleep again. It just came out, while you were feeling the heat of his body, bringing him in close to you.

God – how you can feel him.

He intertwines his legs with your bare ones. It’s a comprising position that you’ve never been in before. But you lean into the fire, unafraid.

The question you have – just ask it. Go for it. He won’t laugh. Both of you are laying on your sides, facing each other. Noses almost touching. Your hand slides down his back.

“How could she give you up, when you feel like this?” you whisper in his ear.

He jokes back – he’s been wondering that himself.

But you mean yours. There’s a part of you that will never understand how you wound up next to him, sleeping in his bed. How could it be, that there’s a space next to him? How could she have let this go? Does she know something that you don’t?

Hands keep moving, caressing, outlining as you try to sleep. You want him. More than any man who has ever felt right.  When he was touching the lines of your stomach, you liked it more than you should have. Your moans betrayed your attempts to be dignified.

But no – it’s not this night. If it’s going to be any night, it’s not going to be this one. Because it’s just too much.

He falls asleep. You’ve only done this one other time with him, but he falls right asleep. You can tell because his twitching can jolt you awake.

Your mind is awake. You can’t quite sleep yet. Because your curiosity about what he tastes like makes it impossible. But you’re not going there yet with him. For that to happen – he’s going to need to show more. And you want nothing more than just to be generous, again and again, so he can take what he needs. Again – that dangerous mind of yours is flashing images of little bites on his shoulders, hands comfortably moving in sync, breathe burning the skin.

But he’s haunted. And you’re not going to spend your time chasing his ghosts.

Your job is not stand in the void. Your job is not to be his toy for when he’s bored. Or lonely. Or horny. Standing your ground when it comes to that gets tricky. But you’ll know when you should walk away and when you should stay with him.

No – be his refuge. His place to land. He can take what he needs from you. But he’s not going to take everything, all at once. You’ll give what you want to give – when you decide to give it. He’s telling you how he wants to feel you – and you decide if it he feels it.

Morning is here before you know it. He stirs awake. You find your place back on his chest, playing with his hair. He kisses your forehead. But before he gets up for his day, he’s going to stay with you a moment longer because you have something to say.

It’s a space you’re afraid to enter. Because you know that once you do, things are going to get muddled even more. But you can’t help but wonder “How could she let this go?”, again and again, in loopy knots that mystify you. His touch. His scent. His kindness, sometimes laced with sass. He’s a bit of a bastard, but he walks street side when he’s with you. You already went home one night smelling of him. It was so new and incredible you didn’t want to shower. But you simply cannot be selfish here.

You get the sense that things aren’t over for them. So against your better judgement, the place in your head that quiets your irrational soul, you tell him what’s on your mind. In spilling the confines of your heart, there’s the sweetest freedom.

“Sometimes, women just need a gesture. Something that says, ‘It’s you. It’s always been you. I pick you.’ Relationships get so ordinary. So placed into routine. Sometimes you need something that wakes you up from routine. So think about a gesture. Think about a gesture that would wake her up.”

He doesn’t say anything.

You don’t want him to say anything.

You want him to soak it in.

That’s what it means to have his best interests at heart. You can tell that he wants to be here with you. In the moment. But he’s not all there. His mind is with her. And you got to let him go there.

He gets up, out of the oasis of bed, to go downstairs. You try to go back to sleep but it’s not happening, so you change out of your pajamas while thinking about what you just said to him.

You know you’re indestructible. You’ve been forged by fire. If he goes back to her, it’s going to hurt you through the longing of seeing what you could have had.

Shoulder bites. Road trips. Childish fun.

But it’s not going to be a mortal wound. Far from it. It would all be in the collection of hurt that you’ve been subscribing to. You’re really good alone. Everything you’re doing right now is mercy for a soul that is without direction, finding his place in new land.

Fall – you think to yourself. You’re going to be okay.

Love him in this moment – in part because he simply needs it. Also because he should know that he deserves it. With all his selfishness. With all his flaws. Just love him, like he’s asking you to with every question he asks and with everything you sense he’s trying to tell you. You want to be the type of person that loves someone when they we’re at their lowest. Not someone who simply walked away because things were difficult. He lit a fire in you that you don’t understand. Maybe you never will. But it feels good to burn brightly when life seems to diminish you.

So many questions about what the future holds.

Just live the questions.

Make no mistake – he told you how to love him. When you leave that morning, walking away unsure, it feels good that you listened.


Return to Fall 2018 Volume 10.1