Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Toll it Takes

When I woke up this morning she was gone. The house was quiet and empty, and I walked around it aimlessly for a moment, considering its loneliness. I hadn’t seen her the night before; she was sleeping by the time I stumbled home. When I’d walked through our bedroom I heard her moan, I’d woken her with my clumsy fumbling, and I went over to her, leaning heavily, and kissed her on the neck and whispered, ‘go back to sleep.’

It’s been like that the past few nights. We hardly see each other anymore.

I heard her come home, the downstairs door slamming itself and the creaks and whines of the stairs as she ascended to our apartment, and opened the door for her, standing there half naked, smiling and tired, rubbing sleep from my eyes. She held a huge bag, household supplies, and looked weary and distant. We said hello and I kissed her forehead then grabbed the bag and set it down at our feet. Then I announced I was going to a coffee shop and asked if she wanted anything. Her bangs fell before her eyes and she spit some air upward, pushing them away. Then she took off her jacket and hung it on the door. No, she said, I’m ok.

I ordered a large double shot red eye and smoked a cigarette on the way back. I thought of her the whole time, channeling my desire for her breath, her body, her innocence. Id felt this change between us; she had felt it too, like a secret had formed. A secret we both understood but were afraid to reveal. And I guess that is how it is with a lot of couples who love each other but don’t know what that love truly entails. That aren’t sure of the depth of their connection, and take for granted that they are physically there with each other, and can touch one another, and fill the capacity of each other’s lives. Couples live and breathe the existence of two, and suddenly it occurs to them that they are no longer just themselves anymore, that they are a unit, that the moves they make, no matter which way, drag the other with them, and that the wounds and scars they may have may not even be theirs, the sadness and joy they feel may not even be their own, they are now a dull abstraction, experiencing a life beyond what they lead. A life of theirs, but also of another’s.

She was doing the dishes when I walked back in. I went over to her and held her waist, staring at her head while she stared at the running water and the soapsuds on a plate, slowly sliding down into the drain as she scrubbed purposefully. I waited for her to say something but she didn’t, so I kissed her ear softly and waited some more.

I have three days off next week, I said. She said that’s great and there was a heavy shrug in her voice. The dishes piled into a rack to dry, some still had the scum of detergent on them but I let them sit, it seemed unimportant. I turned her to me and I could see her eyes and heart silent and suffocating. I kissed her lips, never letting go of her waist, and she leaned toward me, letting her whole body sigh. The light from the sky, gray and overcast, spilled into the kitchen. I thought about work and money. Her breast heaved softly against my chest. Her embrace was limp and hesitant. I rested my head on hers, afraid to let go, of what it would mean if I let go. We stood there tangled awkwardly. The day seemed bleak and still.

I’ve got to get ready for work, I said.


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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at