He tugged the duvet over her shoulders, wrapping her into his warmth before letting his arm fall securely over her side. She snuggled closer, closing her eyes as sleep took her by surprise. Their feet were entangled, hers at their usual ice-box temperature, his like hot water bottles. His shout of surprise amused her. He tickled her tailbone, waking her gently. She rolled over and closed her eyes again, surprised by how neatly they seemed to fit together. His chin rested gently on her hair as she nestled nearer to his shoulder. He took her hand and played with her fingers, stroking each one lightly. He played with her hair, running it backwards and forwards across its natural parting until it felt like a bird’s nest.
“Déjà vu,” he said. Déjà vu? He must have been mistaken, she thought. He couldn’t possibly mean…
“It doesn’t matter,” he said, obviously put out that she hadn’t thought it too. He didn’t mean…
“Annie’s party.” Yes, Annie’s party two years ago, where they had spent their night playing war about who deserved the most of their single air bed before collapsing entwined in sleep at 5am. She smiled; he remembered too.
He pulled her closer, draping her arms tighter around him before blowing gently down her neck. She shivered and giggled. That wasn’t fair.
She raised her head to get her revenge. He was staring straight at her. The look in his eyes was one she had seen before; sleepy, relaxed, but aware. She saw it happen almost before it did. His eyes closed as he leant slowly towards her. His kiss was gentle, a butterfly’s touch. But this time, she didn’t respond. Instead, she very carefully opened her eyes and returned his stare. “What was that for?” He hid underneath the pillow, giving that look of an embarrassed little boy who thought he was in trouble and was trying to ‘cute’ his way out of it. It wasn’t good enough. She flung the covers back and hit the coolness of the room with a thud.
“Now that’s déjà vu” she started as she stormed across the room. Her voice was dead and even, betraying little emotion. Slamming the door, she crumpled to the carpet on the top stair and tried to take control. She shook herself and strode back into the room, trying to feign the confidence she didn’t feel.
He was spread-eagled across the bed, the duvet dragged back to its original place. “What was that?” she demanded. He mumbled that it was nothing, and they would discuss it in the morning. “No we won’t,” she said, bullying the need to scream back from her throat. “No we won’t, we will never discuss this.” She slammed the door again, shaking the hinges. Stomping down the stairs, she hadn’t reached the bottom before she turned around and went back again. Sharp retorts were reverberating about her ears, the fear and fury she felt at being used confusing her thoughts. The door flung open and he opened one lazy eye to acknowledge her entrance. It was futile, she knew. He wouldn’t explain. And if he did, would she really want to hear it?
He called ‘goodnight’ as she fled once more, trying frantically to remember to check all the doors and windows and turn off the lights as she made her way to her own room. She huddled under her duvet shaking, unable to get warm. The hurt she had been hiding for so long engulfed her and she burst into tears.
Her phone buzzed on the nightstand, reminding her she hadn’t turned it off. It was him. “Are you ever going to let me talk?” No, she thought. “I don’t think I really want to hear it.” The idea of having to listen to him as he told her once more that he ‘was drunk’, was ‘only doing this because I know you won’t fall for me’, or that he was ‘just pushing his luck’ made her feel ill. She still hadn’t recovered from the last time. “I still think you need to hear it.” So Harry Houdini, what’s your latest excuse? “I’m not going to give an excuse. But I’m not going to text this. We’ll discuss it tomorrow.”
Of course they didn’t. She climbed his stairs at half seven early the next morning, figuring that if she couldn’t sleep then neither should he. She tidied the room as usual, and gave him is customary cup of tea. Then she took the paper, and they planned their day.
Collapsing back on his bed, she closed her eyes, trying to work out what would happen next. Where the hell had the night before left them?
Gradually, she ended up warming her feet under the duvet, before snuggling down completely. Gradually, his hand crept across her stomach, drawing her closer.
Gradually, she began to relax.
They spent the morning in bed, falling asleep wrapped up in each other, fooling around when they got bored. When it got too hot, the duvet was forgotten, along with her t-shirt. When it got too cold, the duvet was fought over, along with the pillow. They would joke, sometimes quoting lines from films, but rarely talking. It didn’t seem necessary somehow. They were comfortable just to be.
Hunger dragged them slowly to shower. They went to the cinema. They hung out as they always had; nothing had changed. The kiss was never repeated, nor was it discussed. She left him at the station feeling as awkward and uncertain as she always had before. That night his was the most repeatedly used name on her lips. She had returned to square one; she loved him, but she wasn’t enough.
It was déjà vu in its most cruel form.