It’s pretty clear now that I’m in love with Anne-Marie.
Yes. Now that I’ve got it in words, I read it and my brain does not protest. It wasn’t clear before, but it sure is now.
It’s kind of a problem.
We’ve continued spending time together, ostensibly because she’s killing time before Robert’s shift ends for the day, but we both know it’s more than just that. We’ve become friends. We have a lot in common and we enjoy spending time together. Yes, there’s always been that male-female thing going on between us, but we’ve managed to live in denial and avoid talking about it. Which isn’t really doing either of us any good, but we don’t really know what else to do. There aren’t a lot of options open to either of us.
At least, that’s what I think, but since we haven’t spoken about it, I naturally haven’t a clue what she thinks about it all. Even after last night, I’m still in the dark.
Especially after last night.
I was lying in bed after turning off my reading field for the evening. It was late, probably sometime after 26. I was in that twilight state of wakefulness that I both love and hate: Teetering on the precipice of sleep, wanting, wishing to fall off into bliss, only to be yanked back to reality by some stray thought of mundanity and have to start over again.
I heard the door to the Tunnel unlatch and swing open, and all thoughts of unconsciousness immediately left my mind. I lifted my head to look at the doorway. The person opening the door was silhouetted by the hallway light, but I could tell from the size and shape that it was Anne-Marie. The door closed quickly and we were left in relative darkness again.
For a moment, I wondered what was happening, what to do. Then I felt her weight on the foot of my sleeping pad, and the touch of her leg against mine. Her movements signaled her lying down, so instinctively, I raised my right arm, and I felt her nestle her shoulder up under mine and rest her head on my breast.
The smell of her hair was intoxicating. They say smell is the greatest memory trigger, and I have to believe them, for in that moment I felt the memory of every attractive woman I’d ever met rush through my consciousness. The room, as much as I could see, seemed to spin around me.
She was just lying there against me, not doing anything, but my heart nonetheless started to beat faster. I literally felt a wash of chemicals flow from the base of my brain, across my shoulders, through my chest and out to my extremities. My heart started to beat faster in response. Damned hormones, I thought.
Though her body was extended along mine, her arms were tucked in front of her. It was clear from her body language that this was not a sexual advance on her part. Naturally, I started to get an erection. I thought for sure she would notice – that or the incredibly fast and forceful pounding of my heart – and that made me flush even more, this time from embarrassment.
Attempting to mentally snap out of it, I desperately tried to center myself. Taking slow, methodic breaths and thinking of blankness, I managed to slow my heart and lower my blood pressure back to normal. The blood flow in my lower regions returned to normal. Of course, the smell of her was still in my nose and in my head, and her touch was electric against me, but for the moment these were things I could handle.
Just as I began to wonder why Anne-Marie was there, I heard (and felt) the unmistakable sharp intake of breath that indicated she was crying. All romantic or sexual thoughts immediately evaporated from my awareness, revealing concern. I knew then why she was there, but not why she was there.
Now she was sobbing heavily against me, and I felt the wetness of her tears run down my side. I was taken a little aback. I had never seen an android display such deep emotion, though of course there’s no reason why they couldn’t.
I wanted to say something. I wanted to say anything. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to give her comfort, but I didn’t have much more than I was already giving. I wanted to give her some sage advice, but I had none. I wanted to help her, but I knew I could not. So, naturally, I said nothing.
Lying there silently, I felt what I call the soul ache: That intense, fundamental pain one experiences when they see a loved one hurting but they know they can’t do anything about it. That incurable yearning to do something coupled with that burning anguish of doing nothing. It was then that I knew I loved Anne-Marie. Unbidden, the thought This is a very un-smart thing for you to be doing came into my mind. No shit I responded to myself.
Eventually her sobs diminished to the sniffing and sharp inhales that accompany ‘silent’ crying. I could tell that it had been considerable time because my back and muscles were aching from being still for so long. I shifted my body slightly to relieve some of the pressure. As I did so, her right arm extended across my chest and she rubbed her cheek slightly against me as if to say You’re not going anywhere right now.
Or, at least, that’s what I hope it said.
We laid there for a while, her and I together, our arms wrapped around each other. It was wonderful. Heavenly. For the first time in a very long time I felt love, and I felt loved, even if it was all in my head.
In time, I heard her breath even out and I knew she had fallen asleep. That hard, deep sleep of one who’s exhausted from crying. I felt exhausted too, for vastly different reasons, only some of which were related to the fact that I had been in bed trying to go to sleep before all this began.
I must have fallen asleep myself shortly after that as the next thing I recall, I woke up this morning and Anne-Marie was gone. I’m almost inclined to call it a dream, except my sleeping pad smells distinctly like her, and so do I if I smell hard enough. It was very dream-like though.
It is certain now that I love Anne-Marie. What isn’t certain is what, if anything, can (or should) be done about it. Until I find out what upset her last night, and what’s going on with Robert, the answer is nothing.
Waiting for other people to figure out what the fuck they want to do with their lives has never been a strong suit of mine. Hence: The problem.