by Sandrine Shaw

She smells like peaches, and she tastes like rain in a warm summer night. Her hair falls into her face, making her look like an angel. Innocence in perfection. The bittersweet rush of skin against his feels like velvet, a ghost's touch almost. He's sometimes afraid that if he holds her too tight, she'll just dissolve, melt away into nothingness.

She rarely speaks during their nights together; and when she does, she never mentions the war, or the aliens, or her brother. She never mentions anything that would give an indication that they are anything but a boy and girl, caught in the moment. Her touches never spare the stump of his arm. In fact, they touch it like it is normal.

Like any of this is 'normal'.

When they're together like this, it seems that nothing else matters. More so, it seems as if there is nothing else. As if this, the here and now, is all there is to life.

In-between the tenderness of her touches and the smile on her face, he could almost believe that this is what counts. That this is real.

But in the harsh light of the day, when she stands in front of him in uniform and combat boots, her hair tied back in a careless pony tail, her eyes cold and hard, he knows it's not. Just a façade she puts up for him – to satisfy him, to tie him further to her. He listens to her talking of resistance and invasion, of mayhem and revolution, reading out death statistics with emotional force of reciting a shopping list; and he wonders if that's the real her, or if it's just another façade, just another mask to hide behind.

He wonders if she would crumble if he told her he loved her. He knows he would.