Distance is a catalyst to relationships; it can push and twist in one direction or the other. Sometimes it causes a drift, and other times it ignites a slow burn, like the pull of gravity.
Some people’s distance was an hour by car. For her and Liam, it was several hours by plane.
It was also the kind of distance that gave them just the exact sort of pining they needed to have their miniature explosions of dates, once every couple months. A weekend somewhere, filled to the very brim with sex, takeout food, and lots and lots of trance.
This time, they had met at Liam’s apartment, spent the time that he had off of work. Each day passed leisurely by, Anna soaking in every smile, every sigh, creating memories just being in the moment. Every fuck. Every gaze deep into his eyes. Every roll and flutter of her eyelids, time slowed, feeling the slack muscles of her face and jaw.
But the hardest part was always the end, usually at the airport. Today, it was her turn to catch a flight.
It didn’t help that she really didn’t like airports. They were full of stressed-out people, long lines, potentially invasive searches, and so much waiting. The tenseness that she always felt among the bustle and the intercoms blaring over it.
“Hey,” Liam said to her, and it snapped her back. She looked at him, and saw him like he was bright, standing out among the white walls and high ceiling.
“Hey,” she said, and melted into a small smile. “Sorry.”
“It’s ok.” He smiled back at her. “It was a good date.”
“Yeah, it really was.”
“I’ll see you soon,” he promised. “We’ll text all the way through your flight.”
Her eyes cast down, feeling a little guilty about wanting that so much.
“Thanks,” she said softly.
“Hey,” he said again, and Anna looked up at him, and he suddenly had that look that he had when he was focusing completely on her, that kind of intimate attention that made her feel small and weak, even right here in the airport.
Sound choked in her throat, unsure if it was a sob, a confession of love, or a moan.
“You’ve got this,” he said, and the words were imbued with power in that way that she was helpless to, suggestible to. “You’re my girl, and you can do anything, remember? And I’m with you. I’m in your head. Always.”
Just that simple. She felt the tingling around her eyes, the softness of her face that made her realize that she was in trance. He knew. He intended it.
“It’s easy to do things for me,” Liam said, more softly, “and this is just another thing that you do. Keeping yourself feeling good and safe. You have your own inner strength, and sometimes I fuck with that and make you feel weak, but I can just as easily add my power to yours, and you’re helpless to using it to get through anything.”
She felt his presence there, intensely, words and memories echoing inside of her head, the way that he made her feel.
“You should probably get going, love,” he said.
“Are you gonna wake me up?” she asked.
He smiled. “No. I think you’ll stay in trance for this.”
Anna’s lips trembled at that, like a gift.
He pulled her into an embrace and kissed her cheek.
“Be safe,” he said. “You’ve got this.”
She smiled. “I love you.”
Just as simply as that, she was rolling her suitcase off and waving at him, heading towards the swarm of people in the TSA line. But the whole experience felt dim, somehow, dulled by the gentle buzz of trance in her head. Anna felt almost like she was acting automatically, showing her ticket and her ID, calmly taking her shoes off, hoisting her bag into the machine.
It was like their date wasn’t over, and as she sort of pondered it, of course it wasn’t; they were who they were whether they were in the same place or not. She was still under his spell, even sandwiched between people all in a hurry.
“Step forward,” said an agent, and she did, simply, because Liam was still in her head. And the machine didn’t go off, her bag was at the end of the line, and she didn’t feel rushed to get her shoes back on.
It was over in a flash.
She had plenty of time before the flight, but checked her phone for the time, and saw a message from him already there.
‘You’ve got this,’ it read.
In the middle of the airport, hypnotized, she smiled.