“Be still,” you said as you placed your hand delicately on my cheek, bringing me closer to you. I breathed heavily as I felt your hand outline the creases of my stomach, slowly drawing small circles along my back.

There was something so beautiful about 2 ams.

Maybe it was the stillness.

The sound of your heartbeat.

The rise and fall of your chest like waves, reminding you how alive you actually are. The tingling of your skin as you slip further into yourself. The way the moonbeams dance upon your bedsheets in the darkness as you try desperately to hold onto the world as it falls asleep.

You were beautiful, in the way of evening sunsets and crisp afternoons giving life to the earth.

Your smile that stayed in the air long after the silence creeps in.

Your vein writhed hands, holding so lightly onto mine, gently rubbing my back as we talk about the deep things you always hated discussing, admitting your biggest fears and hopes.

I crawl deeper into you. My small, gossamer heart clinging onto your soft words. The ineffable twilight, sinking into our skin.

My hair is a wild and tattered mess, but I’m not sorry. My delicate visage is not perfect. My clothes don’t fit just right, but you admire me still.

The only thing I know is that I am completely selfish about you.

I am full of joy.

As we’re awakened by the passing trains, rattling beneath us through the cold air, you feed me your anxious thoughts and how you were scared of so many things out of your control.

You knew you were smart, and you knew I believed it too. But we hadn’t exactly been put on the path for greatness, as you believed.

You turned to me, pressing your hand against my cheek. I watched as you held my hand in yours, outstretching my arm towards the window. The light of the stars flickered against my skin as I turned to see your gaze upon mine.

You asked me to marry you.

It wasn’t anything dramatic or cheesy. It was a simple question. It was your sleepy and overworked voice trembling into dark spaces of the room. It was the stubble from your unshaven face. It was the smell of musk and winter and cigarette smoke on your skin. It was the hazy air that folded into us.

“I can’t promise to be the one you need. I can’t promise to be perfect. I can’t promise to be the best man for you or the best husband. All I know is I need you,” you said.

Maybe the lesson was to open our hearts to something greater than ourselves, but to not let it become too loose around the edges. That even when our comfort is lost and the sadness sets into our bones, we have the courage and the strength to choose ourselves first. Even in the fear that rests in what is to come, we know that if our happiness relied on midnight burdens and burned cigarettes, then we can never be okay with the space that awaits us outside.

I keep telling myself not to wait for you.

That our nights were something unextraordinary.

That leaving me was the most selfless thing you could have done. That darkness was only temporary.

That loving you didn’t have to be a job.

My life didn’t have to be a series of days, but rather small joyous moments.

That my skin was better still than moving like even the most beautiful roses.