The snow was coming down with such speed and force that by the time that Maya and Josh made it to his apartment building, Maya's hair was full of snow. As soon as they stepped into the skinny hallway that served as the building lobby, she immediately felt the flakes begin to melt, sending tiny drops of cold water running down her neck. She shivered involuntarily as Josh wrapped his arm around her and guided her in the direction of the stairwell. Josh's building was a walk up, something that Maya didn't usually mind, but the snow had permeated her supposedly waterproof boots and icee slush had been seeping into her socks for several blocks. All she wanted was to get upstairs, put on some dry clothes and curl under the heavy quilt that Josh kept in his tiny bedroom closet for particularly cold nights.
Maya breathed a sigh of relief when they finally made it through the door into Josh's apartment, and she heard the heater kick on. She shrugged out of her coat, and shoved her soaking wet shoes onto the tray that Josh kept by the door for that reason. Josh was already in the kitchen, filling the kettle with water from the sink and setting it on the stove to boil.
"I'm going to take a quick shower" Maya muttered as she moved through the apartment and in the direction of the tiny bathroom. She twisted the knobs of the shower on and set the temperature to just below scalding. The floor space in the room was so minimal that she had to carefully remove her clothes and place them on top of the closed toilet seat to stop them from getting wet when she stepped out of the shower.
Her hair was already damp with cold water from the snow outside, but the idea of going to bed that night with a wet head made her shiver. She didn't have a blow dryer at Josh's place. Space was so minimal that she felt selfish taking up more than just the space for her toothbrush and the drawer where she kept her pajamas and change of underwear. She tied her hair up on top of her head and stepped under the spray of the shower. Even under the hot water, she felt unreasonably cold. Her teeth were almost chattering. She willed her jaw to stay still, focusing on the steam that was filling the room and imagining it warming her down to her core.
She didn't want to think about what had just happened at the Matthews. Showers were usually her time to think, consider, and argue with herself, just as she had earlier that week after the disastrous dinner with Riley, Farkle, and Lucus. This was too big of a decision to try and make alone with only a half bar of irish spring and a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner to bounce thoughts off of.
Maya stood under the warm spray for a while longer, willing her mind to go blank and not to linger on thoughts of her mother. She stayed in the shower a little longer than she had meant to, and Josh would probably start to wonder if she had drowned.
She turned off the shower and quickly toweled herself off. She cursed herself for not bringing a change of clothes into the bathroom with her. She dreaded the walk across the apartment in only the towel, thinking that she was going to lose all the warmth she'd just gained from the hot water by streaking across the cold wood floors with no socks and not so much as a sweater for protection.
She lingered by the door for a minute, knowing the second she opened it all the steam would pour out and she'd be hit by the cooler air of the living room. She took a deep breath and steeled herself as she twisted the doorknob and pushed open the door. She took her first step, expecting to feel the freezing wood floor against her foot. Instead it felt as if she had stepped into a pile of fluff. She looked down at her foot and saw that it was resting atop a pile of clothes. She recognized her preferred pair of jersey sweatpants and the NYU sweatshirt Josh had given her that was her favourite to sleep in. Best of all, there was a fluffy pair of fuzzy socks that Maya could barely wait to put on. God he was good.
She glanced around the apartment and didn't see Josh. She figured he must be in the bedroom.
"Thank you!" Maya called, figuring that with the thin walls he would have no trouble hearing her. She scooped up the pile of clothes and ducked back into the bathroom to get dressed. She felt instantly cozy as soon as she slipped the garments on and pulled the sleeves of the sweatshirt down over her hands.
When she re-entered the living room she found Josh who had just finished wrestling his mattress through the door of his bedroom and flopping it down in front of the couch.
"Come help me with the couch cushions" He encouraged, moving towards the sofa and getting a grip on the back pillows.
Maya's mind instantly flashed back to the night so many months ago when a storm had trapped the two of them in this apartment and Josh had turned his apartment into a pillow fort to distract her. He'd done so much for her before they had even been together, before they had been in love, before they were even real. Her heart swelled with affection for her boyfriend and she bounded across the room and threw her arms around him.
Josh had dropped the cushions in his hands and wrapped his arms around her waist in return. Maya pressed her cheek against his chest, listening to the sound of his heart beating steadily. The world felt like it was changing so quickly around her and she was so grateful for this one constant thing in her life.
"This is a little different from last time" Maya mused. She and Josh were huddled in the pillow fort they had created, carefully handing the sheets and arranging the pillows along the mattress to create the ultimate nest.
The pillow fort itself hadn't changed much from their last living room adventure. They were still on Josh's old mattress that dipped slightly in the middle but was the perfect mixture of soft and firm. They had the same spare sheets draped over their heads and they were covered by the same quilt they had used the time before.
The snow swirled outside, so just as before no delivery driver would be facing the weather, so they had created a feast out of left overs from the fridge and endless snack foods from the pantry.
A few things had changed. The rain and thunder had been replaced with snow and hounding wind. This time around they still had power, so rather than watching downloaded movies on Josh's laptop, Netflix was loaded up on the tv overhead.
The main difference being that rather than keeping a careful distance and throwing awkward glances at one another, Josh and Maya were a tangle of limbs. Maya's leg was hitched up around Josh's hip and his arm was wrapped around her back, his hand playing with the ends of her hair.
"Maybe a little," Josh joked, dropping a kiss onto her forehead.
"I think I like this version better" Maya muttered, pressing her nose into the side of his neck and letting the comforting smell of his skin wash over her. He squeezed her against his side, both of them enjoying the quiet moment together.
"That feels like forever ago" Maya continued, toying with the hem of Josh's shirt.
"So much has happened since then" A million memories washed over her. It was crazy to think about everything that had taken place over the past few weeks, let alone months.
" and so much is changing" she finished, trying to suppress the sigh she felt building.
" we don't have to talk about it now. Not if you don't want to" Josh said, as if he were reading her mind.
"Maybe sleeping on it would help?" he suggested. Maya closed her eyes and pressed herself closer against him, wanting to stay like that forever, not wanting anything to change.