What It’s Like To Sleep Next To You

Curled in the center of my bed, above the soft crinkled blanket, I ache for you. It starts in the pit of my stomach. It expands outward, filling me. It reaches my fingertips and pushes to get out. The ache runs through my feet. The feet so small they can still wear children’s shoes. The feet with tiny toes and no pinkie toenails. The feet you held and studied, describing every oddity as if asking for an explanation. I have none. Before you, they were just feet. I stretch my legs, point my toes, tense every muscle. The ache won’t leave without you. Grab my foot and pull it closer, pull me closer. The ache surges into you. One look into your green eyes and it flows back through me. Keep your glasses on. See me.

It’s just cold enough to keep me awake. The blanket under me is soft enough. It’s warm enough. No. Be my blanket, wrap around me. Grumble as you spit my hair out of your mouth. Push the tangled mess of fallen curls back. Find my neck and breathe into it. I hate it. It sends a shiver down my spine. I stay still and resist the tickle spasm. Don’t let me shake you off. Turn around; let me face your back. I draw shapes over the smooth tanned skin with my right index finger, lightly. I spell your name on your shoulder blades. Down your spine: Please. Stay. Remember. Forget. Leave. Wait. I spell everything I don’t say. Everything I don’t know. You start to wake when I kiss your shoulder, the back of your neck, down your spin. You start to move, I lean my back against yours, quickly. Don’t see me.

I curse my alarm but love to run in the quiet of the morning. I sneak out of bed and dress silently. My ears are pounding. Outside, I hear only feet on the pavement. Exhale. Run harder. Relax my shoulders. Keep my feet light. Maybe you’ll wake and leave before I’m back. Spring from the ground. Don’t pound. It would hurt. Or be a relief. Look up, forward. Breathe. Cool down. I stretch on the grass outside. I lie down and watch the sun turn the sky blue. I stand at my door, staring. I hope you’re still there. Or here. Wherever it is that I got lost in you. I open the door slowly; it creaks anyway. I see your shoes, your jacket, you. Sit up in bed, stretch out. Smile. Why do you wake so early, you ask me. So I can run. What are you running from, you ask me. Nothing. I’m running towards, into. See me.

I turn on the shower. Follow me in. Go home. Stay in bed. I hear you gargle my mouthwash. I see your shadow outside the shower curtain. You turn to the door so I move the curtain. You laugh. I reach for your arm and pull you closer. The ache surges into me. This will be the last time. I can’t do this. I want more than this, with you. You don’t. Maybe you do? Bad timing? Fine, stay. Or leave. Please choose, I can’t. See me. Don’t see me.

Six-foot-three, dark hair, sometimes unshaven but never scratchy. Hands two times the size of mine, guitar-callused fingertips. Soulful voice, great though slightly snobby taste in music, always knows the best radio stations. Playful laugh, self-conscious laugh, can’t-hold-in-your-laughter laugh. Perfect green eyes behind thick black rims wrapped around thicker lenses. I see you.

You cannot stay. The choice was never yours alone. I forgot I deserved part of it. Half of it. Although I cannot drive the ache away, I can find someone who wants to share it. I wake alone, aching, heart racing. My ears fill with the quiet of the morning. I run out of the pain, hurt, loneliness. I run into the sunrise, the blue sky, the nearly car-free road. I look around. Breathe it in. I run back into my dreams, goals, self. There’s a puddle in a pothole. Black asphalt underneath bright water makes a good mirror. I look in and, finally, see me. TC mark

featured image – The Vow

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