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turn to me at midnightShe used to dream a lot.
Sometimes her dreams were of working at the office, answering the phone and faxing papers. Sometimes her dreams were of running around on playgrounds, moving her seven-year-old legs back and forth in her swing and skinning her knee on the sidewalk. Sometimes her dreams were of painting, sitting on the edge of a cliff somewhere, the breeze lifting the ends of her hair around her face. Sometimes, even, her dreams were of her wedding day, a haze of white dresses and wooden, polished floors.
Mostly, though, her dreams were of him.
It's different now, she thinks, listening to rain patter against her window. She doesn't dream as much since Jim came home and brought his new girlfriend and new remoteness back with him. It's like her dreams were the manifestation of her hope, of her desperate wish for someone (Jim, only Jim) to save her from what she was about to do to herself. Now he's moved past and she can't move forward and she's stuck in between the walls of two rooms, pressed paper thin and more than just a little transparent. He was her last chance.
She's laying in her bed now, a few tears slicking down the sides of her face from her utter frustration. She's tired, tired of pretending she feels one way when her heart is ripping at its homemade seam because she doesn't even know how she really does feel (this isn't the first time he's hurt her). She doesn't know what she wants but she knows it isn't this and it's too hard to sleep alone in this bed that feels forty times her size. Sometimes she even misses Roy, not because she wants him back (that she does know) but because he was warm and he was there. He was consistent. Maybe he didn't fill her up, maybe he didn't make her whole, but he was good with his hands and he used the caulk of his presence to keep the wind from whistling through her cracks. There is this lonely ache in her chest and this pounding ache in her head and if only she could sleep, just for a little while, she knows she would feel better. It would be nice to be able to escape, even if it's only for a few hours and even if it's almost worse in the morning, waking up in the dim, gray light to her cold sheets and her alarm clock.
She's not sure, now, if the tears on her face are from exhaustion or loneliness. She thinks it's probably both, but that doesn't make her feel much better and she rolls over onto her side, tucking one hand under her neck. Sometimes being alone isn't so bad, she tells herself, but that's quickly followed by, How would you know? and she decides to stop saying things she knows aren't true.
The digital numbers on her bedside clock are blinking: six more hours until she can stop pretending to sleep, until she can get out of this bed. She feels engulfed by it, by its expanse of smooth white linen, by its awful lack of anything to cling to. She reaches a hand out and runs her fingertips along the ridges and wrinkles in the sheet and feels a tear sink into her pillow, one drop into a pool of thousands. This is not the way she thought things would be.
She's reaching for her phone before she can think about it, before she can convince herself that it's a bad idea to call him. Karen's probably there and this isn't her place anymore. He's not hers to call in the middle of the night, but she doesn't care, can't bring herself to care. The buttons on her phone make dull electronic noises as she scrolls through her numbers. She hesitates, almost calling Roy by accident, by habit, before pressing the send button with a shaking thumb on Jim Halpert, Cell. What an entry in her phonebook, she thinks, like they're nothing more than colleagues. But then, maybe they're not.
Her ears are ringing, and it takes her a minute to realize that her phone is actually calling him, that any second now he could answer. She pulls the phone away from her ear and snaps it shut with her thumb and fingers, the sound echoing through the silence. It's strange how sometimes things negative, void, unsaid and undone can mean so much more than their opposites. She thinks about the things she's said and the things she hasn't; she thinks about what she should have done when she had the chance. She remembers the things he did, the things he said, and for a brief second the lump in her throat burns with a strange bitterness at the way he has no regrets and her life is entirely consumed by hers. She's starting to feel choked, like her throat is closing, and her breathing is speeding up.
She can't do this anymore. She can't do this anymore. No regrets, she tells herself, repeating it over and over, No regrets no regrets no regrets because the more she says it the less she remembers who she's always been, the choices she's always made, the person she was and can't can't be anymore.
Her purse is lying on the kitchen table, her keys tucked neatly inside. When her car starts it's the only sound on the street, and the rumble beneath her feet surprises her. She almost asks herself what she's doing but squeezes her eyes against the thought, keeping it back and pushing it down until it's just a vague pressure behind her heart, which is nothing new and everything she's used to. "No regrets," she says out loud, as if saying it into the air will bind her to it. Maybe now she won't back down. "I'm going to do this," she says, squeezing the steering wheel. In trying to maneuver her car through the town, she ends up running three stop signs because a few times she has to close her eyes and relax her body just to keep from screaming. She is so awake: her fingers are tingling, her breathing is quick, her muscles are quivering. The rain outside is drumming on the roof of her car and she loves it, hates it, doesn't understand what's happening but god, it feels good to do something unexpected.
She doesn't know who this person is, this half-crazy woman who's jumping out of her car with the engine still running, walking up to the door in the rain and knocking on it. It's like something snapped inside her; she can feel the jagged splinters digging into her ribs, and she can't help but keep going. Now that it's started, it's too late to take it back (would she? would she?). She wonders if that's what he was thinking when he kissed her. No regrets, she thinks, and knocks again.
She hears someone approach. A pause, where she assumes they're looking at her in the peephole, then a scuffle with the lock and oh god what if it's Mark what if it's Karen? She freezes, rivulets of water running down her face (anything's better than those goddamn tears), and for a second she's just Pam again, just broken and scared and so in love she thinks she might dissolve, here and now, just disappear into a puddle of cloudy water. Then the door opens and it's Jim, standing in his pajamas, his feet bare. He's staring at her.
"Hi," she says, and her heart is beating so hard it's painful. Nothing new, nothing new: it always hurts these days. When her doctor prescribed some sort of antacids to help with her heartburn, she flushed the tablets down the toilet because at least with the pain he was still there, still lodged between her ribs. She's not one to let go.
"Pam?" His eyebrows are drawn together, like she's a haze and he can barely see her, like she's the shimmer of heat in the desert and she's only there if he looks hard enough. "What are you doing here?"
She expects to feel her eyes well up, to feel the familiar burn in her throat, but they don't and she doesn't, and she laughs because the rain feels so good, like it's washing away the smudges. He tugs on her arm and pulls her into the doorway, looking at her like he's almost afraid.
"What's wrong?" he says, letting the door swing shut behind him. "Pam—Pam. Are you okay?"
"No," she tells him, shaking her head, a smile still curving her lips. "I'm not okay. This is not okay, I'm not okay, I—I don't know what I'm doing." His hand is still on her arm, and she slides her fingers between his, locking his knuckles with hers and pressing her fingertips to his. He sucks in a breath but doesn't pull away, and she's reminded that what she's doing is crazy, that's she crazy, that she's really, really lost it, but nothing's ever felt so good and she lost everything a long time ago, anyway.
"I've come to tell you," she says, "that I'm letting you go." He stares at her and she blurts, "I love you. I love you, and I've loved you and—but this isn't—and I'm not—and I won't hold you to anything you said because I ruined it completely and—I had to tell you, I had to tell you because I regret everything, all of it, and I can't do it anymore—"
She can't help it (she doesn't ever want to wait again). He's looking at her with those eyes and his fingers are still hooked around hers and she can't help it – she's pushing him hard against the door and pressing her mouth to his, despite everything she just said, despite the fact that Karen could be in the other room, despite the fact that Jim will probably push her away any second and tell her that she's right, that it's all over and he's ready to move on and be done with her. But he doesn't, he doesn't, and everything's happening so fast: she can already feel him hard against her belly and she's never been so turned on, not ever, not once before in her entire life.
At first they're a little unsteady: Jim half picks her up, winding her legs around him, but they stumble because they're them and they're clumsy and neither of them has ever had less thought or more feeling in their bodies. "Pam," he rumbles against her lips, a hand on her lower back to push her forward against his hips, and before she knows it they're laying in his bed and he's pushing into her, his mouth on her breast, his hips in her hands. After years of wanting and wanting and wanting, she comes so fast and so hard she cries out, a strangled sort of gasp that's a mixture of his name and some nonsense syllables. He thrusts a few more times, holding her small shoulders in his hands, and then he's done too, just a heavy, warm weight on her chest (it's what he's always been). They're quiet for awhile, but he doesn't roll away and she doesn't loosen her arms around his waist. She likes him right where he is.
"Pam," he says after a few minutes, his voice muffled against her neck. His lips brush her skin and goosebumps break out all over her body. She's never felt so calm; it's like a tornado just passed and everyone's coming out of their houses to peer up at the blue specks of sky peeking through the clouds.
"Mmm," she says, feeling his spine with her fingertips. He doesn't say anything for a bit so she adds, "Yeah?" Everything's a little muted now, even her voice, but maybe that's just the solid press of him making her sink into the mattress. She waits.
He pulls his head up to look at her. He studies her face for a minute and then says, "I love you." Something twists in her stomach and tears are in her eyes before she can think. But it's okay.
She kisses him softly, cupping her hands around his shoulders to keep him close, letting him press her head back into the pillow with the gentle insistence of his lips. She breaks away and says, "I love you too." Her voice is a little clogged.
She suspects there are tears in his eyes too, but he nuzzles his face into her neck before she can get a good look, and she feels his words as much as hears them when he says, "Karen broke up with me." He pauses. "I thought you should know, if you didn't already."
"Mmm," she says again, because she kind of suspected after everything that's just happened. She'd like to think that he loves her so much that he couldn't help himself, but she knows he would never do something like that, even to another woman, and she feels something inside her chest smooth over, warm and silky, like paint over flaked bits of plaster.
"She asked me if I was still hung up on you, and I was going to lie to her, but… it was weird. It was like I couldn't," he says.
"I thought you were over me," she tells him. "I didn't think anything would ever happen after… everything that happened."
"Yeah," he sighs, placing a kiss where her neck meets her shoulder. He's still not moving and he's getting kind of heavy, but this weight on her shoulders is more welcome than anything else she's ever held up. She's smiling a little as she falls asleep, his warm body still pressed against hers, because maybe this isn't how she envisioned things, and maybe it took getting her going a little crazy to get here, but when she dreams that night (and she's sure she will), she knows it will be of him.