I Knew It

Put on some fucking clothes, he used to say, but his eyes would wander. He would look, because he was a red-blooded man. He would let his eyes drift over exposed rib and bared, scarred skin. Because. But he always teased her. Put on some fucking clothes.

She wishes she’d had more to put on.

Breath comes in tiny frantic puffs, frosted plumes that curl from her lips as she pumps long limbs, struggling to keep moving, to stay warm. She moves through the night, checking her phone sometimes, pissed at the level of the battery, a paltry six percent, the red line in the icon mocking her. “Please call,” she tells the phone, and it’s a mistake. The smoke from the fire that drove her from where they hid out did a number on her. Speaking irritates her throat, and she begins to cough. She has to stagger to a stop, and she drops the phone, hugging herself tightly, willing her lungs to stop their spasming.

Her lips split when she grimaces, skin gone dry from the cold, but it’s not just from them that the blood comes when she coughs again, whooping desperately, eyes wide, red, tearing as she looks up toward the stars.

She hits the ground, a clatter of sticks in bright rags, teeth clacking together, and hugs herself tightly, stifling the couch, but not enough. She can taste copper and iron in her breath, and on her lips. Gasping the cold air, laid on the ground, she is chilled in a matter of moments, and in her stillness, she gives in to the idea that she could just wait a little, catch her breath, and she’d go on again in just a few minutes.

Just a few minutes.

Her phone doesn’t ring, but she knows he’s near. Her hands and feet can feel the heat of him, finally. “Ohthankgod,” she mumbles, and the sweet warmth of him surrounds her as she closes her eyes, curling up into his embrace. “I knew you’d come,” she tells him, tears of relief on her cheeks as she feels the heat of him move through her, soothe her. “I knew it.”

They find her the next morning, braids and curls stiff as her long legs, body leaning against a trash bin, phone eight inches from her fingers, no missed calls.

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