by Meg Borascius
I used to hate your window air conditioner. It hums incessantly throughout the night, and somewhere after the sleep timer shuts the television off the air conditioner usually begins to crackle. It reminds me of cereal soaking in freshly poured milk, although breakfast is hours away. It keeps your room about ten degrees too cold, and sweeps icy air over my feet when your sheets pull up from the bottom of the bed. But that was months ago, before it became impossible to decipher where your body ends and mine begins.
The first time I stayed, you had your side and I had mine. Our breathing was out of synch and I used to wake up wondering what it was I was doing here. This is not my bed, these are not my pillows. Sometime after you started finding my hairs on your pillows and I began finding your scent on my clothes, I found myself looking forward to nights floating in your gray sea of sheets.
You are different when you are alone with me. Unguarded, I would even go so far as to say foolish or vulnerable. Sides of the mattress no longer exist, and somehow the whistle you make when you breathe drowns out the air conditioner I never thought I could escape at night.
When I move, you move.
If I wake up facing you, I can see the muscles in your back move with the unraveling storyline of your dreams. You like to intertwine your legs with mine like vines keeping Morning Glories. Although the room is chilled, our bodies perspire at these intersecting points, before cooling down again when you roll to face me. Your breath warms my face and I abandon my pillow for your shoulder. I feel your lips brush my forehead, even though I thought you were asleep.
Sometimes I wake up and we are holding hands. It makes me curious how our bodies act without our minds, asleep.
The morning always comes early for you but never me. I feel the emptiness as I slide to the center of the bed, but I do not fall back to sleep, I just listen to the humming. I sense your shuffling movements in the quieted darkness of these early hours. You keep the lights off for me: a silent gesture of kindness, a privilege you give up when you ask me to stay. This confuses me, because even after all of this time you are still not really mine and I am not really yours. What small sacrifices to make, mattress moments to give, for someone you cannot call your own.
But actions speak louder than words, and you never forget to kiss me goodbye.
Last Updated: 4/12/12