She whispers her name in my ear, while Bez sleeps beside me and Juteau stalks the house in her sleep: Sabina.
The scent of eucalyptus faintly slips through the air as she leans near to me. I can feel her breath as she whispers, cool like fog, and I turn my head in her direction, but I can’t see anything more of her than a slight shadow in the air that passes between me and the doorway as she stands and slips into the hallway, past the tiger who still waits in the corner, patient and unmoving. I pull back the blanket and slip out of bed to follow her.
She goes down the stairs, and the creaky fourth step remains silent under her feet, only to groan when I step on it. She goes into the living room, and I follow. When she stands by one side of the window to look out over the street, I stand at the other side and look also, but see nothing outside that is unusual. She puts her shadowy hand against the window, and though it is nearly sixty degrees tonight, frost appears on the glass in the shape of her palm and fingers.
She says something then, but it is too soft for me to understand. I move closer to her, standing next to the cold outline of her empty form, and wait to hear if she speaks again. Once more she leans in until her lips are almost directly against the skin of my ear, and she breathes her chilled breath on me again.
“The air is thin…” she whispers. “Too thin to breathe…”
I try to touch her arm, but she is made of smoke and my hand passes through her. She is not distressed by this, and so neither am I. I stay as close to her as I am able without entering the space in which she stands.
She turns suddenly away from the window to look back at the staircase, and her long hair brushes like ice across my bare skin. “Almost here…” she murmurs, and for just a moment she becomes more full, more present, and I can see her for the space of a heartbeat, dark hair, wide eyes, frost on her cheeks and lips. “Almost here…” she whispers again, and then she fades from smoke, to cloud, to vapor, and then she is gone. Her icy hand print remains on the window for a moment longer, and then it too vanishes, leaving no trace of her behind.
When I get back to my bedroom, Bez has kicked the blanket off the bed and is curled in a naked ball on her side of the mattress. I pick the blanket up and get back into bed, pulling it over the both of us. She is cold to the touch, and my fingers trace over the raised geometry of her skin, a landscape of goosebumps. I spoon myself against her and wrap my arm over her, nuzzling my head against her neck. Shortly, her chill fades, and she unfolds herself like a flower blooming, then rolls onto her side to face me. Without waking, she drapes her leg over mine and puts her arm up between us, holding her hand against my chest. I touch my lips against her forehead and she murmurs something, as quietly as Sabina had a few minutes ago, in the low and musical language of dreams.
In the morning, whatever is almost here will feel as weightless and vaporous as Sabina did herself, but for now, I hold Bez close in the dark and breathe in as she breathes out, taking her air into my lungs, and there is nothing thin there at all. I am fearless in the moment, and with that fearlessness I slip my arm up between us where Bez’s is, and I put my hand into hers. I can feel her pulse beating against the skin of my wrist, and I am not surprised to find that our hearts are beating with a matched rhythm, soft and fierce at once.
In the hallway, the tiger whuffs softly, but I pay him no mind.
I am fearless, after all.
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