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by Steve Campbell

Her kiss is the brush of silk against your lips. The faintest taste, the slightest touch. It caresses your neck and shoulders, flushes your cheeks and raises a flutter of wings beneath your skin. You float with your eyes closed, your breath forgotten at your throat, and cling to the sensation knowing it can’t last. And it doesn’t. It slips away, fading to an impossible hunger, a whisper that gnaws at you until there is nothing left to give.

And then it forces you to open your eyes.

Pillow folds leave a crease of reality on your cheek. How long has it been? Days? Weeks? Longer than that? You try to focus but the room remains hazy and grey. Are the curtains drawn to prevent light from seeping in or for the gloom from leaking out? You don’t rise. But push a lethargic hand along the mattress, groping for any warmth she left behind. The sheet ripples between your fingers and your hand comes away cold. Has the room stolen the traces of her already? Was she ever here at all?

You withdraw your hand and nestle it beneath your body before it’s infected with the truth.

Sleep beckons, urging you to plunge back beneath the surface and escape the emptiness that surrounds you. And you embrace it. It washes over you as your eyelids tumble and your chest flutters. Your lips curl at the edges and then part gently. Poised. And there it is. The taste. The brush of silk against your lips. Her kiss.

Steve Campbell has work published in places such as Spelk, Fictive Dream, MoonPark Review, Molotov Cocktail and Flashback Fiction. He’s managing editor of Ellipsis Zine and is trying to write a novel. You can follow him via Twitter @standondog and his website standondog.com.