He had his back to me and I was curled up against it like a pill bug. The blanket was down below his waist and he’d taken my arm and draped it over him instead. I felt like a child, nestled there against him, and it was delicious and strange. I was awake, and I wanted him to be too.

Held there in a comfortable kind of stuck, I had nothing to do but stare at the back of his head. I decided my nose was to be my weapon. I poked him with it. Prodded. Tapped a little beat. There were half-grown hairs at the nape of his tan neck and they were tickling the space above my lip. I nuzzled into them, partly to wake him up and partly because I wanted to know what it would feel like to do so. They tickled my face and I giggled into his skin. I felt his silent laugh and pulled my head back, waiting for him to turn over, to wake up. But he didn’t. I frowned and tilted my head to the side, wondering if yelling “wake up and play with me!” would be too direct of an approach.

That’s when I saw it, a little tiny freckle behind the cartilage of his left ear. I couldn’t help it, I gasped in delight. He inclined his head toward me, curious.

“Did you know you have a freckle on the back of your ear?” I whispered.

“No,” he said, voice raspy with the first word of the day.

“Well, you do.”

He laughed, with sound this time, and rolled over onto his stomach, peering up at me with one eye, face squashed into the blue pillow. He watched me as I lay there, looking for freckles on his other ear. There was one right in front, but I was sure he’d seen it, and that wasn’t nearly as fun as the one unknown. I couldn’t help but wonder if someone before me had noticed it and simply not told him, or if it had gone unnoticed for years. Or if he had just gotten it and I was truly the first to see it. I smiled at the thought, and felt his eyes brighten on me.

The morning light was coming in through the sheer curtains, lighting up his face. I glanced down, met his gaze, then glanced away again. I’d never seen him in morning light before, and firsts always felt too big, too full, to hold. I was afraid that if I tried to, it would tip over and spill out and be gone.

There were new colors in his eyes and all I wanted to do was look down and meet them, hold them and know them. But I kept my gaze on his ear, his neck, the side of his face, deciding to start slowly, with freckles.



3 thoughts on “ears

don't be shy

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