I fear the silent bed that awaits my return. It lies ever so still, blanket cool against the sheets, pillow no longer smells like my love, but like this fetid room of oozing injuries, dog piss, and cat dander. I breathe into the pillow, hoping for a brief strong taste of my love. It’s still there, a little. I’ve been away from him for so long it feels: more like months rather than days. I Want to take his slender arms and hold them about me, curling me into him, becoming my hermit-shell so we can crawl on spindly legs across the world together.
I want to see what the cats see: when they crouch and glare and stalk, eyes intent on the black rectangle beneath the fridge, or on the doorframe, or a single step. Skitzo-cat paces the frequently dirtied floor, head arched like he’s proud, an Egyptian god or pharoh, as his paws pad silently about. It is not a monster slumbering two rooms over, but a patient of putrid wounds and injuries, an aging accomplice often known as “Man’s best friend.” She lies for hours with her eyes open, looking at nothing, except, perhaps, happier days, or the Beyond, and perhaps she wonders when that Beyond will take her. Or when this present day shall be taken from her. Either way, death is inevitable. As is all sleep. Eventually my tired eyes will close, I will lie down, Danish will wake me up, my feet will feel scalded on the cool wooden floor (I know what’s been there) but I’ll open the door for her nonetheless and wait, and hope, she will soon return.
I’m kissing the lips of exhaustion, sucking them dry, willing them to keep me awake
and refreshed, or else take me down in a complete way--a way that will let me stay under for a full eight hours, or at least six.
A pale woman in black plume hat and dress, dagger-length necklace dripping to her bosom. The ends of a pink or red scarf fall from her shoulders. I wish she’d walk out and scare the dog into eternal silence, granting me a multitude of peace, a supreme gift of love would I feel for this dark stranger, painting on the wall, staring at nothing unhelpfully.
The floor snores, black fur rising. A voice from the office shrieks about being alone. A moth flits from wall to ceiling. I live to wait this night.
A chant. A simple thing, really. And later-sleep. Sleep like waiting on a balcony for a storm, like falling into James’s arms when we make love, like lying on a bed of moss in the beginning of spring, before the bugs visibly swarm, or like that first drunken kiss--the freedom of opening my former relationship, the codependence of the road trip, the independence of running to the Smoky Mountains, and the warm, green forest of Cades Cove.