It’s been over two years since she woke up with the scent of someone else embedded in her skin, and it is both comforting and terrifying. She can smell his cologne and sweat and she remembers her face pressed into warm, smooth skin, and strong fingers stroking down the back of her neck. She remembers opening her eyes and it feeling like it was the first time she was seeing the world. Her hands held by his, looking small and delicate, his legs on either side of her, boxing her in, protecting her. There is a part of her telling her to wash him from her body, remove the final trace from her flesh, but the part that wants to keep the ephemeral mark is bigger, and it wins.

She struggles into clean clothes and her breath catches in her throat when she smells him again halfway down the block. She feels vulnerable, raw, and exposed in the bright sunlight and she’s glad the black t-shirt covers the red lines her made last night on her upper arms. She thinks about confident, deft hands running over her body and rope following in their wake. She inhales deeply and misses the tight embrace of her bindings that contained her. As she goes down the stairs she finds herself touching her fingertips to her thumbs and can feel his hands wrapping around her wrists and pulling them down gently, smiling at her.

She talks on the phone, and yells at the top of her lungs at the rally, but she can’t forget how hard it was to open her mouth and whisper “’kay” the previous night. How he had to lift her chin and force her to make eye contact and answer him. His hands had been warm on her stomach when he murmured in her ear that if she didn’t want to go up she didn’t have to, but she wanted to, and he made her fly.

Now she is back on solid ground and out from underneath the shield of night and she doesn’t quite know what to make of herself. She doesn’t fit in her skin the same way anymore, but she can’t figure out why or how so she touches the mark on her shoulder and counts the days until she’s back up in the air again.

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