We had come so close. We rationed proteins, we doled out water in scant mouthfuls. If we were careful, there would be just enough. Then we ran out of fuel. Outside, a blue-green world rotates tantalizingly out of reach. I lick my dry lips and send another mayday.
It is nearly light and I have not slept. Pine boughs scrape the windowpanes. “Stay,” she murmurs when I stir, but the name she whispers is not mine. She drifts in and out, clutching the covers to her chest. Frost limns the window, and yet I lie here and burn.
Tonight I tasted falsehoods in her kisses. I see them, now, in the fall of her hair across my pillow and the angle of her hip. My heart is an overwound spring, an unsigned contract. Sleeping, she is honest: she does not love me.
“I will go, if you ask it.” The lantern is turned down low. Its dim light pools on the table, glints off the brandy glass dangling from your fingers. I wish I could see your face. “No.” Your voice drifts out of the shadows, gentle as rain. “Stay.”
They keep coming: small men with their small desires. They hunger for my gold; they scrabble through my table leavings. They foul the air with their scent. Here comes another, hand over hand to steal my solitude. Let me ready my plate.