I nudged her upon realizing the time, and she instinctually yawned, then put her arms around me. Hugged me like I was home. If I was selfish, I would have left it at that. I would have gone back to sleep and had a day with her all to myself, but in my attempts to be a better person, I nudged her again.
"You need to get up," I whispered.
"What time is it?"
"We slept through the alarm."
She blinked the sleep out of her eyes and paused for a moment.
"Wait, how did you wake up?" she asked.
I sort of shrugged and gave half-conscious smile. I can honestly say it was one of the only times where she looked thoroughly impressed with me. She then sort of slumped her shoulders, saying it was too late. Again, if I was selfish, I would have taken that and convinced her to sleep a few more hours.
"No c'mon. How long does it take to get to the bus terminal?"
"Now? At this time? I dunno. 10mins?"
"And what time is your bus?"
"Ok. So then you'll still have 5 minutes to buy food for your trip."
We traded sly grins and I'd like to think that in that moment, she found out a bit more on what I was about. Truth be told, I found out a bit more on what I was about. I threw on my pants, and told her I'd join her in flagging down a cab. In a last remanent of doubt, she hesitated, cataloguing all the reasons why she wouldn't make it. In response, I placed my palm at the base of her chin, looked straight in her eyes and said:
"Look, you've been talking about this trip for weeks. Do you want to go?"
"Then take the chance and go. If you miss the bus, just come back. I'll be here."
She smiled and it warmed my entire body.
We dashed out into the dark and ran a good quarter-mile before finally locating an off-duty taxi sitting on the roadside, eating either breakfast or a late-night snack. At first he told us he was done for the night, but after explaining the situation, he was convinced to take the job. She threw her bag across the backseat and climbed in. I kissed her through the window and grabbed her hand like the world was in the midst of collapse.
"I love you." I said.
All I got in return was a glance, an acknowledgment that what I said was a true statement from the heart. And then, she vanished.
I went back to my apartment and stared out the window above my desk, half-way hoping she made her bus, half-way hoping she’d show up back at my door an hour later. I think that conflict lasted throughout the rest of our relationship, and I strangely feel it once again as I am writing this now.