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At Last

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She awakens softly, her eyes fluttering open hesitantly, strained without the aide of her glasses. The warm glow of the fireplace varnishes the rustic room in a deep and brilliant ocher. Around her, various animal hides line the walls and dilapidated jars entrap various flora specimens. A single radio sits atop a small desk on the opposite side of the room, emitting a faint static that is all but inaudible; Delphine’s laptop sits beside it, its screen darkened.
Her body, weakened from exhaustion, lies securely beneath several weighted blankets; feeling having almost entirely returned to her extremities. She stretches sluggishly, withdrawing prematurely from her full extension as her attention shifts sharply towards a sting in her hand. A single cannula feeds from her to a stand beside the bed; a steady flow of clear liquid drips rhythmically downwards. She inhales deeply, feeling the laboured expansion of her crippled lungs beneath her ribcage; the taste of old blood and near death lingering poisonously in her mouth.
Heavy fatigue insists she succumb and return to slumber but a sudden pressure on her opposite hand jolts her focus and she shifts without hesitation. Beside her bed, Delphine is sat asleep in a chair; her top half slumped forward onto the edge the bed, her hand gripping onto Cosima’s. She feels the distinct acceleration of her hearts rhythm at the sight of her; its pounding ringing in her ears. She watches silently as Delphine sleeps and feels the warm sting of her tears as they begin down her face.
From beneath the sheen of tears clouding her already challenged vision, Cosima studies Delphine with intent, counting each languid breath she produces from within her deep slumber. Her hair, unruly and tussled, falls across her face, its highlights all but grown out, curls falling loosely without the hardened support of product; she is completely untouched and utterly beautiful.
Courtesy insists on leaving her undisturbed, anticipation argues on the contrary; Cosima squeezes gently at Delphine’s hand, urging her to return to consciousness.
‘Delphine?’
She jostles softly, her hand reciprocating the light squeeze of Cosima’s.
‘Bonjour, Cosima’, she turns her head upwards and gives a smile.
‘Hey’, she responds with enamour.
Delphine gingerly pushes herself upright, her body stiffened from its less than ideal sleeping position.
‘Are you okay?’
‘Mmm? Oui, I’m fine’, her free hand running across her face and towards the back of her head in one swift movement; her fingers raking her hair in the process, ‘how are you feeling?’
‘Better’.
‘Good,’ she gives a small nod as she reaches beside her and grasps Cosima's glasses. 'Here,' she places them delicately upon her face and smiles.
'Thank you'.
Cosima pushes herself upright on weakened elbows, her body buckling slightly at the exertion. The heavy blankets fall downwards as she rises, her almost bare chest and torso becoming exposed in the process.
‘Delphine,’ she begins as she examines herself, ‘where are my clothes?’.
She bites down on her bottom lip, smiling cheekily as she tries to refrain from laughing.
‘I did what I had to do. It was either you or that shirt that came off second best’.
‘I loved that shirt’, Cosima playfully pouts her bottom lip.
‘So did I’.
‘Mmm?’, she smiles widely, ‘You did, huh?’
‘Oui’, she leant forward, closing in on Cosima’s face, ‘I wish the circumstances that lead to me ripping it off you had been different’.
Cosima snorts as laughter escapes her, Delphine joining her simultaneously.
‘Holy shit! Your pillow talk is A+’.
Delphine wipes away a tear, ‘you like?’
She nods enthusiastically, her tongue poking out from behind her teeth, ‘yeah…yeah, I like’.
Her free hand cups Delphine’s face, pulling her gently inwards, stopping her just shy of her lips. Her eyes locking onto Delphine’s as she takes a handful of her hair and plays with it gently.
‘D’you know what I like even more?’
Delphine’s brow slightly furrows with curiosity.
‘Don’t get me wrong, you were totally babein’ with straight hair,’ she winks, ‘terrifying, yes but smokin’ none the less-’
Delphine lets out a small laugh.
‘But this,’ she pulls playfully at her hair, twisting is loosely around her finger, ‘this…I really like’. She lets her hand fall down to her side and watches as the handful of hair returns to its position. ‘I missed you, Delphine,’ suddenly, her lip begins to tremble. ‘So much.’
Delphine continues holding her gaze as tears begin down her face.
‘I missed you so much and I’m so sorry I let you go’.