Bryn was watching the clock as we waited for the far-off ding of the elevator and my dad to appear in the doorway with some more awful takeout. I watched it too, not daring to stare at the television for fear that my gaze would drift in her direction, betraying the wounds you could only see if you were staring straight through me.
She said something about rain clouds clustering outside and then she sniffled. “I wish you could just…” She stopped.
I wasn’t sure how many days I’d been awake, how long she’d been waiting for me to say something. But she was desperate. I could see it.
I was desperate too. Every day I was plagued by new sensations, feeling returning to me in pieces, and all those pieces wanted to do was touch her. I just wanted to touch her.
I swallowed, opened my mouth. Air. I took another breath, holding onto it.
“Roman?” she whispered.
“Br—” I stopped. Don’t say her name. Don’t let her love you.
It was burning there in her eyes, the kind of love that turns your insides into glass and the person you love into stone. Every word, every sigh, every pathetic sound I made had the potential to break her or keep her safe but when it came to the two of us, I couldn’t figure out how to do one without the other.
She stared down at me, still waiting. But instead of speaking the rest of her name I fumbled over my own, muddled and one syllable instead of two. When I finished I closed my eyes, cheeks flushed.
“Roman,” she whispered back.
And when I opened my eyes again Bryn was smiling and for one second I lost control and I couldn’t help but smile too.