Sleepless by Tracey Ward
My name is Alex Mills and I have a superpower.
Don't be jealous, it sucks. I can't control it. My mind is a mutinous SOB that takes over when I go to sleep. I'm just a girl trying to get some shut eye while it decides to throw a rager that can land me just about anywhere in the world.
The base of the Eiffel Tower.
The shore on the coast of Ireland.
The third baseline at Wrigley Field.
Sounds exciting and fun right? Wrong. My not so superpower is unpredictable, uncontrollable and annoying as hell. It's also how I met Nick.
Every cloud has a silver lining. Nick is mine.
Nick is extraordinary as well. He can't feel fear. Never has, never will. It's worked out for him as a PJ in the Air Force, one of the most dangerous jobs in the military, but where it's not helpful is with his social skills. Nick is cold, distant and apathetic.
He's also my hero. And if he's to be believed, I'm his.
I first met him when he died and that wasn't even the weirdest moment of our relationship. Neither is this moment here and now, trapped together in an island prison on the Behring Sea. It's a long, strange story between his death and this prison. One full of sheep, docks, Jabberwocks and a very special stone. I could tell it to you if you'd like to hear it. I've got time...
“Your life might not be good for a girlfriend, but a girlfriend might be good for your life.”
“You are really racking up the profound statements tonight.”
“You’re impossible.” she groans.
“Another reason I should stay alone.”
“There are far more reasons why you shouldn’t.” she says quietly.
“Careful, that’s almost a compliment.” I warn her playfully, trying to lighten her mood. She doesn’t respond. She’s playing the waiting game, fishing for more of a response, and I know exactly where she learned it. The girl’s a natural because I can’t help but turn to face her, sit up on my elbow and explain. “I don’t want a woman playing mistress to my job. Being a PJ, though, I can’t offer much more than that. And I told you what’s wrong with me. I don’t get attached. I don’t make time or room for people easily. So I leave it alone.”
She doesn’t respond. She barely breathes. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m slowly pulling my fingers through her hair. I hadn’t planned on doing it but now that I am I don’t plan on stopping. Not until she tells me to. Her hair is long and soft, softer than I knew hair could be, and I’m perfectly content to keep dipping my fingers into it and watching the starlight shimmer off the strands as I move them.
“Nick,” she whispers, not looking at me. “You shouldn’t touch me.”
“Do you want me to stop?” I ask. I’ve been around long enough to understand that shouldn’t and can’t are not even vaguely the same thing.
“No.” she breathes.
I smile as I continue slipping my fingers through her hair. She lays perfectly still, her only movement the occasional blink and the slow rise and fall of her chest.
It’s different this time, touching her. The other times, when her skin barely brushed mine, I didn’t feel anything. Nothing to support her claim that it was “dangerous”. Now, though, it feels different. My heart is skipping beats. Not a lot, it’s not racing by any means, but every once in a while it trips and misses a step.
When she turns her face to look at me, it misses a big one.
Her warm eyes are shining in the low light, not bothering to hide a thing. Everything she feels is written plainly for me to see and it makes me feel good. Nothing profound.
I was born in Eugene, Oregon and studied English Literature at the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) It was there that I discovered why Latin is a dead language and that being an English teacher was not actually what I wanted to do with my life.
My husband, my son and my 80lbs pitbull who thinks he's a lapdog are my world.