she snuggles up to him as the clock on the cd player rolls up 04:00, he lifts his body to let her slide her right arm underneath him, he takes her left hand, squeezes it and then wraps it around himself – pulling her real close. “i’m sorry for yesterday.” he bends and kisses her left hand – again. she had watched him last night, hands in pocket, pace around the living room soon after he realized she has had dinner with a man he knows wants to sleep with her. she didn’t tell him when it happened, but last night it slipped out inadvertently as they joked over dinner. “he would be silly to think having dinner with him means i want to sleep with him.” he recalls the several messages from him that she showed him – and the latest gift. “you know i only text him because i don’t want to be impolite. you know he is my dad’s friend.” how is any response to a ‘i miss you’ message not suggestive of other things than being polite, he muses. why does she think the only way to make me love her is by placing herself in the presence of other men. “why can’t you understand he knows i don’t want to sleep with him?” he stops pacing to look at her, he removes his hands from his pockets, but fights the urge to shake the stupidity out of her. “really. you accepted his gift of a lingerie –” she gets up and walks up to him, touching him, she feels his body tremble. “but i gave it away.” he looks at her, opens the door and walks out of the house. she follows him. the night is balmy. soon as she touches his shoulder, he turns to face her – she cannot see his face or his hands in the starless night, but she knows she is safe. “don’t try to be smart with me. does he know you gave it away? can i send a lingerie to another woman?” he walks away into the night, leaving her with her demons. he returns twelve minutes later to meet her standing in the spot he left her, her phone glowing – his phone starts to buzz, he ignores it. “why do you always walk off in the middle of arguments?” he goes to sit on the stoep, she joins him. “you’re overreacting this.” he looks at her, gets up, and goes into the house. she follows him. “look, i need to sleep. you think i’m overreacting. i just don’t want to be sitting with you one day saying i told you so, because that would mean someone has taken a part of us you only gave out of uncertainty. if you don’t think i love you, deal with it with me. why bring another person into the equation. you think sweet words in text means the person cares. why can’t you see real love manifests in actions not vacant words. you stop this nonsense with him or you leave me the hell alone. if you want him go be with him, if you don’t then save us these useless arguments. i don’t want to waste emotions on someone who isn’t in love with me.” he goes into the bathroom to brush his teeth – the dinner has left a bad taste in his mouth. she watches him brush his teeth carefully, contrasting the storm swirling mischievously around. she waits till he’s done. “did you just say i am not in love with you?” he looks at her and starts to walk out of the bathroom. she is in the way – she wants to get the last word in. he looks at her, she doesn’t move, he goes to sit on the toilet bowl. standing by the door, hand on the light-switch, “i asked you a question.” taking the face-cloth he dabs at the remnant of water on his face. “i was referring to him. he is not in love with me.” she moves into the bathroom – ready to launch. he gets up, as he approaches she raises her hands but remembers their code, she drops her hands, and he walks out of the bathroom. she joins him moments later in the bedroom – seething. but he says nothing else before drifting off to sleep. she remains awake – seething. but insomnia – the partner of night-time philosophers, brought her to her senses about what he constantly tells her, proximity breeds attempt. then she falls fitfully asleep, and waking, she reaches out to him in the familiar post-manic ritual. “i’m sorry i’ve caused you pain,” she kisses his back.

“words.”