Darkness has made its way into the room.
She tried to squish her eyes but couldn’t see more than outlines. The sound of an even breathing assured her that the person next to her was still there. She sank back into the pillows.
And suddenly, the memory came back.
Five hours early, she had opened the door to her apartment, and there he was. Standing tall, with a smile on his face. They haven’t seen each other for longer than expected, and when she saw him standing on her doorstep, she finally realised how much she had missed him.
“Of course, I am!”
“You are really here!”
“I told you…”, his voice was filled with love.
Yes, he had told her. Several times, over and over again. And even though, she knew he would’ve not promised her if he didn’t think of keeping his promise, she somehow couldn’t believe that, in this moment, he had his arms around her waist, swaying her back and forth.
“What?”, a slight giggle followed.
But it wasn’t the memory of him finally coming back that had startled her out of her sleep. It was something else. Something that had happened later that night. He has been holding her, and they were about to go to sleep. She remembered that she had felt his body heat, his voice whispering in her ear.
She had cuddled up to him when it finally had hit her.
It happened so fast. Without any warning. And before she could’ve said anything, her thoughts had started spinning and spinning. She had calculated the hours she had left with him. Had thought about how she got so lucky. She had felt happy, comfortable, but scared and sad at the same time. She had started thinking about what if he wouldn’t come back so soon again. She had had all the thoughts at the same time, experienced all the feelings at once.
And then there had been nothing.
It had felt like someone had turned the switch off. Like everything has been too much, too overwhelming and the only solution was to turn it off.
Her head was empty.
And her fear had gotten bigger. It had put its hands around her neck, taken away her breath. She had gasped for air. Hadn’t been able to feel it in her lunges, she had tried again. Still nothing. Slowly, her eyes had widened. And she had felt the panic rose. The break between her breaths had become shorter and shorter. She still had felt like not getting enough air.
And then she could feel how he pulled her closer. Hugged her, held her.
For about 15 minutes she hasn’t been able to control herself, and so she stayed in his arms, sobbing, trying to breath the panic attack away, feeling the tears silently running down her cheeks.
His fingers had wiped away a tear. A soft kiss on her forehead.
And slowly, she had recognized that her head had been starting to work again. Her thoughts had had come back, filling the emptiness, her breathing had started to become more evenly.
Their eyes crossed. With a thin voice, she had said:
“This was me having a panic attack.”
And that’s all they had said.
One last time, she looked over to his side of the bed. Tried to make his face out in the dark. She wanted to say so much, wanted to let him know how much it meant to her that he hadn’t tried to fight her monster. That he hadn’t tried to talk her out of it. That he has just been there when it happened.
But she didn’t say anything. Instead, she cuddled up to him and tried to go back to sleep.
He felt her coming closer again. Automatically, he wrapped his arm around her. She had scared him earlier that night. He had witnessed it only once before, but not like this. Not the blank horror in her eyes, the shaking body. He knew that there was a lot they had to talk about, but he also knew that she wasn’t ready yet. So all he could do was being there for her, and he would be – whatever it would take.