#Sunday-Romance Serial: “Your Hands Are Cold as Ice”

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash
  • Introducing: Naomi and Joanna
  • Setting: Contemporary, no specifics
  • Length: 568 words
  • Key Tropes: established relationship, nightmare comfort
  • Content Warnings: none
  • Explicit?: No

Naomi rolled over and tried to get comfortable again, unsure what woke her. No light leaked from the edge of the curtains, so she didn’t check her phone for the time.

A weak whimper came from the heap of blankets on the other side of the bed.

“Jo?” she asked softly. “You okay over there?”

No answer. It had taken Naomi a while to get used to Joanna’s odd sleeping habits–the rain sounds she used to help her fall asleep, the multiple layers of thick blankets even in mild weather, the occasional kick if she was starfishing. It meant more nights of broken sleep than Naomi preferred, but she’d adjusted over the last year, and they were a small price to pay for near-constant daytime happiness. Joanna was the best part of her life, even if she wasn’t the easiest bed mate.

Naomi thought she might have nearly been asleep again when she heard a squeak, one that sounded remarkably like the word “help.” She scooted ungracefully across the bed, digging her way into the tomb of blankets, until she found body parts–a hip, a hand. “Joanna,” she said softly, settling herself beside her wife, whose body was tense, limbs contorted wildly. “You’re having a nightmare, Jo. Wake up.”

If it were that easy, Naomi would get more sleep. But Jo’s nightmares were strange, vivid things that held her prisoner sometimes in a state that edged on wakefulness, where she could talk but wouldn’t remember any of it later. Naomi’s only solution was to keep her talking until she made enough sense to prove she was fully awake. “Wake up, Jo,” she tried again.

“The Muppets,” Joanna mumbled.

As far as Naomi knew, Joanna loved the Muppets, so if they were in her nightmare, this was going to be a truly weird one to hear about. “What are they doing?”

“I have to find Kermit, he’s supposed to take me to dinner.”

That was more familiar ground. The nightmares almost always involved searching for something. She had a bunch of semi-logical questions to follow that up with, and she chose one at random. “Where are you going to dinner?”

“The Oscars.” She sniffled. “But I lost my dress, too.”

“That’s okay.” Naomi soothed her sudden tears with a hand smoothed over her hair. “I’m sure you’ll still look great.”

“I still have my sword. He told me to bring my sword.”

Naomi considered that and chose her next question. “What kind of sword is it?” Not that she would recognize the name of any exotic weapons, but Joanna was a fantasy nerd, so she could probably name half a hundred types, between this video game or that book series or her role-playing experience.

“It’s a sword,” Joanna explained patiently. “And I need to it get into the Oscars. Like a ticket.”

A world where every celebrity came to an awards show armed. That truly was a nightmare. “Have you found Kermit yet?”

Joanna groaned. “Kermit?”

“Small, green, neurotic but sweet frog? You were looking for him.”

“Jesus, Naomi,” Joanna said in an entirely different tone of voice. “Your hands are cold as ice.” She shivered once, violently, then pulled Naomi closer and wrapped her in a tangle of limbs, which melted, softened, completely unlike the vibrating tension of the nightmare. “I don’t understand how you can sleep when you’re half-freezing.”

Naomi pulled one hand free to arrange the edges of the blanket pile more snugly around them. “Good excuse for you to warm me up.”

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