Space to her was not emptiness, not an unbearable distance between minds or the phantom ache of another body or haunting heartbeats from four lovers ago, like trying to play a new song when the piano key from the last note of the previous song was still stuck, sonorous, stubborn. It meant respect – quiet and kind. It meant butterflies when she saw him for the first time again in days, fireflies in their eyes from the reflection of the street lamps at night when he couldn’t make himself say goodbye. It meant more when his strong arms encircled her chilled body and he pulled her closer and she inhaled the warm scent of his neck and it felt easy, for once, for the first time, for all the wrong ways she had gone about falling for somebody before, because the thing about falling, she thought, is that you travel through space with no sense of agency and complete loss of control, trusting that he will catch you before you hit the ground, but you can’t catch a girl whose side you never leave, you just fall with her, and that was what the problem had always been, she realized. That was the secret to not falling apart nor too quickly nor too hard nor any other variation that would invariably result in bruised heads, shoulders, knees, and egos. She wanted to talk about stardust and supernovas and tell him how much it meant to her that he would wait so patiently, exhausting his precious human existence, wasting that brief time we can occupy in the infinite history of the universe, but instead she laid her head on his chest and tangled their feet and closed her eyes and thought it, thought such heartfelt, hopeful thoughts, thought she could fill that space with their thoughts so that even where her words couldn’t reach him, he could read her.

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