Maddy was having nightmares again. When the realistic visions came to her she would scratch violently at her forearms in an attempt to awaken. I could still see the magenta tracks then, as we sat on the floor of my apartment. I held onto her arms, covering the marks with my pale fingers in attempt to pretend they weren’t there, staring into her anticipating, gorgeous face.

“Won’t you let me stay?” she asked. Maddy sat on the floor in her burgundy-hued dress, her long dark hair swaying slightly, teasing the rug beneath her. I had moved upwards, on my knees as I held her arms, not wanting to let go. “If you need to,” I replied. “But I’m sleeping out here.” I indicated the couch, the one which we had previously been sitting on- until we began kissing. I’d regretted those last few minutes just then, upset that I’d allowed our friendship to be so tested once more, her fragility to be marred by my foolish temerity. Not with her, again. Not with someone who deserved the sun in every set- of which, at the time, I could offer zero. Why couldn’t we just return to the couch, the old movie, eating animal crackers out of the plastic bear head?

But she leaned towards me again expectantly, such a delicate blur, more beautiful than a Basquiat. Kissed one corner of my lips. A softness I could drown in. I was being honest with her, as before, and she was honest in return by explaining she wanted more- but that is where our forthright natures clashed. Her mouth lingered there, as damp glitter, but I did not want to move it away. She waited so patiently, so sure that I would eventually give in. After what seemed like eternity I moved my head across her cheek and to her neck, and just held her. For that night, couldn’t that be enough? Even for her? Such beauty deserved to be held, a lot.

“Okay,” Maddy finally said, nodding slowly, clasping her hands to my shoulder and my hair. Fingers of gentle water. Before this I hadn’t had much experience with women. I guess we can be frighteningly magical, more so than we realize.

The title is taken from a line in an e.e. cummings poem, somewhere I have never traveled, gladly beyond.

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