After you fall asleep I find designs in the cracks of my bedroom ceiling. I try to control my breathing. I see a cat, a star, and a baby’s rattle. I frown at the toddler-themed design.
When you start to snore I gently lift your arm off my breast and roll out of bed, nearly taking my daisy print bed-sheet with me. Wincing, I pull the sheet over you and I stand. For several seconds I watch the rise and fall of your chest. I should turn down the air conditioning, the fluttering of your bangs echoes the movement of my heart.
In my bathroom, I text him as I brush my teeth. I make sure my phone is on silent before I hit send; I do not want the telltale bells of my message to wake you.
With a newly minty mouth I kiss your forehead knowing you will not wake. I leave a note on your shoes by the bedroom door, however, just in case. Gone to the library to study, I lie. Be back later. I draw a small heart and sign my initials.
I don’t know what part of me will be back, but not the me you think you love.
I drive to his apartment with no music but the sound of my own thoughts. If only we hadn’t run in to him at the bookstore. We went looking for good fiction, not drama.
Awkward in front of you, we had hugged. Trying to look brave, trying to look together, I told him he should call me sometime. If only I hadn’t meant it. If only I had deleted his number. If only I had ignored his calls. I shake my head at a stop sign. I knew what I was doing.
You were so happy for me, it’s so nice to run in to long lost acquaintances! You do not know that he is an itch I cannot help but scratch, and through the blood of the fallen scab I find pleasure in my pain.
My phone vibrates for two full seconds. At a stoplight I look-- he can’t wait to see me.
The fabric of his old couch irritates my naked legs. I shift and wish he’d hold me. Embarrassed by the need, I bite my nails. You would hug me; you would cradle me. You always do after sex, and I always push you away.
He rises from his spot on the opposite side of the couch to get a glass of water. When he returns he hands me a green washcloth so I can clean myself. I softly thank him as I take it-- I try to grasp his hand, but he’s already out of reach.
I think of you, asleep in my bed back at home, and bite my lip. My blood tastes metallic.
Thanks for visiting, he says as he walks me to his door. I muster a fake, tight smile, and we hug stiffly, like two strangers and not two old friends who just exchanged bodily fluids. He shuts his screen door and walks away, not even watching to make sure I make it safely to my car.
I let myself in to my apartment. From the doorway, I hear your gentle snoring. From the bed, you cannot hear me cry.