early morning goodbyes
In the dark, I am jarred awake. His phone's angry bleating knocks me from slumber, echoes in my ears. I gasp. I whine. I'm incoherent. I had been dreaming--already, in these few seconds, the imagery has faded--but I'm sure I was fearful. Sure of it... A sleep-ful moan escapes my lips as I snuggle my chin, my nose, into the nest of blankets and pillows.
"Ssshh, shhh, shhh," he whispers, folding and tucking the blankets around me, shielding me from the cold that has twisted into the sheets. "Go back to sleep." He gathers his clothing, his shoes, his wallet, pushes through the white curtain separating the living room from the den-like bedroom in which I now drift, uneasily, back to sleep.
There is no carpet in the apartment, no smooth walls. The pipes--which groan with thunderous cracks when the boiler ignites--are my intermittent warmth. But here, here in the gray glove of morning, burrowed beneath comforters and handstitched quilts, I am warm. I am safe.
In and out. In and out. Hazy visions mixed with the reality of light and sound. I toss and turn, sometimes twisting to the quiet noises he makes as he readies himself for work--the rain of the shower, the frying of an egg. My eyelids flutter, my lips mumble. I drift...
Too soon--all too soon--he is there again, next to the bed. Sitting gently on the bed. Leaning on the bed to reach me, reach me beneath my cotton camaraderie. I stretch my arms toward him, stretch awkwardly and stiffly, my arms overlapping, straight as toothpicks. "I got you." I barely manage to breathe the words.
"Sshhhh." He strokes my cheek, pushes hair from my forehead. He does it again. Again. My mind swoons with sleepy affection. I succumb.
"You're my sweetheart," he tells me. He tells me this in the windowless bedroom, in what could be protective darkness. "I love you."
Too soon--all too soon--he is leaving again. Leaving the cozy nest, leaving the apartment. Grabbing his keys and leaving me behind the white curtain, beneath the white covers. Barely, gently, I hear the mumble of his car. Already, in these few minutes, the soft kiss on my forehead has faded. I concentrate on the memory of his touch and, as I hear his call pull from the curb, let my senses hypnotize me and lull me back to slumber.