for LarissaNote: This is practically unedited because I have to leave for a family outing. My apologies!
Brittany sleeps with her window open, even in the dead of winter. She says she needs to feel a breeze on her face to fall asleep – mentions some story about her parents making her sleep outside for a month – but you think it’s because whenever she shivers, you instantly curl around her, burrowing deep like some hibernating animal.
One night, it snows.
Brittany had been adamant about leaving the window open that night; even the screen was dismantled at her command. When you wake to soft-cold covering your body, you realize why.
“I thought it’d be fun,” she whispers, already awake, and then her tongue flicks out and leaves a line of warmth up your snow-covered nose.
You melt snow within your palms and slick it through her hair, watching as it turns dark, burnished gold, so out of place among the early-morning shadowland of whites and greys. She coats her fingers in the light dusting that covers her sheets and smoothes them down your cheek, leaving a trail of ice-fire in her wake.
The snow on the bed melts too fast for you to truly play in it – a few seconds of shaping in Brittany’s hands and the snow trickles through her fingers. She pulls a face and you kiss it away, laughing. “Can we close the window now? It’s freezing.” You shudder.
“As long as you promise to play outside later.”
You hold up a pinky, and she glances at you – the kaleidoscope of her eyes shifting in a way you can’t quite interpret - before shaking it and pulling the window shut, cutting off the chill.
The sheets are soaked through; the cold seeps deep into your marrow when you lie back down. Brittany steals away to get a blanket. She returns, and cloaks the two of you in one so thick and warm that both of you quake violently under it as you cling together, bodies undone from the sudden change in temperature.
Even after the shudders stop, you still nestle deeply into one another, listening to the tempo of your hearts slow to match the silent snowfalls outside.
She sits up when you enter the room, your hands curved around twin mugs of hot chocolate. The steam curls and billows in the air, wavering in front of Brittany’s face and transforming her into some winter apparition. She takes the cup from you and blows, scattering the illusion with the steam. You nudge her, teasingly, and drop a kiss into her hair as you slip under the sheets with her, her arm reaching around to anchor you as you try to stop the dark liquid from splashing out and scalding you.
Once, as a child, she spilled hot chocolate on your sheets. She’d immediately apologized and scrambled off the bed, only splashing more as you watched in a mix of anger and horror. You’d stripped the sheets hastily, hoping to clean them before your parents noticed and scolded you, but when you finally ripped them off – Brittany watching, scared and wounded, from a corner – the stain had already seeped deep into the mattress. You’d scrubbed and scrubbed, in desperation, but the dark ring was still there, sepia soaked permanently into the fibers.
(When your parents found out, they didn’t mind.)
Now, she’s as careful as you with her cup, but that’s not because she’s afraid of spilling it. It’s because she wants to enjoy every last drop.
You link your fingers together, hands snuggled under the sheet, and rest your head on her shoulder as you sip at the sweet drink and watch the winter morning unfold from the window before you.