They sat in the dimly lit living room with the Christmas tree behind them. The bright lights of the tree glistened on the window behind them, snow falling fast. Although the snow takes somewhat and hour to fall to the ground from the sky, at that moment it felt as if the speed increased. She sat on the ottoman placed near the piano. Her fingers shifted swiftly across the keys, a faint sigh left her body. She looked put together, her hair falling without any constraint. She straightened her back, took a deep breath. She collected her hair into a low messy bun while the shorter hairpieces fell. The tune of Comptine d’un Autre ete which seemed to make him smile, who stood at the other end of the room, pouring two glasses of wine. It was from his favourite movie. She remembered, he thought about the conversation they had last week about their favourite movies. He looked over at her sitting and figuring the proper notes but could not quite figure it out. He knew what the note was but he held himself back. As she struggled to finish the melody she looked at him, not aware of the fact he was already watching her. He wanted to end this game of secret glances and just look at her without making her uncomfortable but knew he shouldn’t rush for some reason, not this time. So he held back and let her watch him. After a while she focused on the piano, playing a different song now, fiddling with keys. He knew the lyrics, so he sang to himself. There was silence, comfortable silence tonight. And he wanted to stay that way, but the fact that this night would be over soon and the snow would just be stepped on with people and there would be darkness. He liked the darkness, he wondered, then why was he scared? She stopped and looked at the sheets of music on the piano when she heard Lucas say,” I saw you looking at me and sketch something in your diary the other day, was I your inspiration for the evening?” This caught her off guard. “You made sure to not make it obvious, I know, but it’s one of my abilities, youknow.” He shrugs as he picked up the glass of wine for her and walked overto her. She smiled, possibly on the latter part still avoiding the former. She takes the wine glass in both of her hands and sips, her face changes at the bitter tasteof the wine. “I don’t like the taste of wine-“ she pauses swirling the wine in theglass “- but I admire people who offer me wine. It tells me somethingabout their personality.” She looks at him and gives him a sweet smile thatmakes him smile, hoping it was good. Carol slowly walks past him. The sweet smell ofher perfume surrounds her, she stops and looks at the photographs on thewall above his bookshelf. She touches the books lightly. She made everything aroundher feel as if they are alive and she did not want to hurt them. She madethose moments feel gentle like they could break just at the harsh touch of someone else but she knew how to handle them. She looked at the photos and stood thereto figure out. What exactly? Him? Or his story? She stops. This is what shedid all her life, figuring out people so she could know how to act before them but for once she stopped. For some strange reasons she wanted to ask himquestions, listen to him. “What are you thinking about?” Lucas chips in as he cocks his head to the sideto catch a look of her. But all he catches is a faint smile faintly smeared across her face with the subtleness of her nature and just how she felt and portrayed heremotions and he felt highly of her. He respected her. Without speakingmuch, she spoke through her eyes. She points to one photo in particular, of an old couple sitting in a café smoking,two cups of coffee in front of them looking out the window. But whatattracted her most was how they held their hands. She smiles lightly. “Old couples always intrigue me the most, I wonder what they were talking about before youtook this picture or if they were comfortable, with the silence betweenthem. How they have held each other’s hands, so effortlessly, not trying to prove their love to the people around them but just knowing they are there for each other. Its one of those habits you develop when you’ve been with someone for too long. When you’ve shared everything about you- your past, your flaws,your habits. And they mutually choose to share their present and their future.”A lightsound somewhere out on the street brought back her from her thoughts. “Sorry,that was unnecessary.” She looks down and then at him taking a sip fromthe glass of wine in her hand. He looked at her, a look confirming that he could see something in her that was difficult to explain. He wanted to kiss her at that moment, to hold her face and just feel her lips on his. To be close to her. But he didn’t want to rush, and so hejust looked at her. “I like how you say things.” As if you had been rushing all through your life,but for once you want to slow down, you want the closeness, to belong yet beindependent. He wanted to say the rest but didn’t. She stood across himand smiled at him. She kept the glass of wine on the table she rubbed her hands to warm them a little and walked to where her bag was. She searched for something and pulled out a wrapped present. When Lucas caught a glimpse of ithe stood straight and kept his glass on the table giving her all theattention. “You were right, I painted you. I made some sketches here and there, andI never paint someone who is in the same room as me but I couldn’t help it. And maybe, I wanted you to know I was looking at you. And this was special to me. So here it is, a gift for you, Merry Christmas, Lucas.” She held the gift out,a smile on her lips, Lucas hesitated but he took it. He looked at her as his namesleft her lips. His lips quivered and his eyes glistened. She only said myname, why do I feel this rush of emotions, he thought but curious to know what it was and while being careful he opened the wrapping. He opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out as if his spirit has left his body, for the beautythat stood in front of him and he looked at her again, she wrapped herhands around her waist and waited for him to open it. On opening it he saw a beautiful portrait of himself, with a guitar in his hands. He knew a little about painting and could feel the roughness yet the smoothness about the painting, he ran hisfingers lightly over it. “I usually don’t use different colours but when I saw you I felt like experimenting.” Everything about him challenges her, she thought. She lookedat the painting, ”Do you remember this day?” Lucas waited for her to continue,for her to speak more as he adored the way she speaks, she could listen toher talk for hours. It was like beautiful poetry in every sentence she spoke. “We were at Max’s and you were playing Bon Iver and it just caught me off guard. You had this expression on your face and you were so happy to be a partof that crowd with the people around you and wanted to make them happy. Butyou were still figuring outyourself. Someday my pain, someday my pain Will mark you Harness your blame, harness your blame Andwalkthrough With the wild wolves around you In the morning, I'll call you Send it fartheron Your eyes were closed and I had the chance to click a picture of that moment, Of you.” She looked at him, ”I am sorry, I shouldn’t have done that. I apologise.” “No, no. Don’t be sorry, I am just-“ he looked everywhere around the room except her, after a while he looked at her. “-No one’s ever done anything even close to this, you have no idea what this means to me.” He stroked the paintingand he walked over to his bookshelf and placed the painting carefullymaking space for it. “I didn’t get you anything, I am sorry.” He said as he turned around to look at her with an apologetic look. “It is not a give and takes kind of situation, I just wanted you to have this.” He walked over to her, they could sense the space between the closing, the tiny space now filled with silence, the flowery scent and the coldness fighting withthe warmth. He reached out to grab his glass of wine that he kept before, whilehe was doing this Carol lightly lifted her hand and held his hand, whichmade him halt immediately at the suddenness of her actions. He looked at her hand and not at her, maybe he was scared or flushed. He didn’t know. She didn’tknow. Her hand felt cold. Idon’t want to ruin this. But I want to kiss her, so badly. Iwant to hold her cold hands in mine. But I don’t want to hurt her. His inner voices got the best of him at that moment. As he looked at her hand thinking of the what-ifs, Carol took this opportunity and kissed him, just on thecorner of his lips which took him bysurprise. Goddammit, Lucas! Just kiss her, she is being so vulnerable in this moment. Youwon’t hurt her, she won’tbreak. But, what if she does? During his inner monologue, Carol took a step back, looking down at her hands. “I feel the gift didn’t do so well. And then this. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, that is the last thing on my mind.” She walked backwards picking up her bag and coat. “I should leave. See you next week Lucas, I hopeyou don’t avoid me after this.” She gave him a smile as she walked out ofthe door. The longing between them grew as she walked out that door and he sat on theottoman touching the keys to maybe feel the warmness, sighing he closedhis eyes.

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