Short Story #6 – Sleep

This short story came to me in the middle of the night one night. I couldn’t sleep and my mind was racing. I had to get up and write something and this is what came out of my fingertips 🙂 Enjoy!

We always start the night the same. Me on my side facing away from him. Him behind me, facing me. His left arm in the crevice between my neck and left shoulder. His right arm draped over my waist, often with our fingers interlaced and pulled up close to my chest, just below my chin. My thoughts, as they always do right before sleep, will race. I’ll think about a conversation I had with a friend, part of a project at work that I left undone at the close of the day, or something to do with the kids. It’s not until I can hear and feel his breathing deepen, slow, that my body falls into the same rhythm, willing and ready to follow my partner into sleep. During the night we inevitably fall apart, different parts of the bed, different dream worlds. My body adjusts to the lack of leadership, until it can’t anymore. At some point in the wee hours of the morning, I wake reaching for him. If he’s too deep in sleep, I can’t usually return to our original sleep position, so I settle for the gentle brush of my fingertips against the skin of the center of his back, his bicep or wrist. But it’s never quite right. I toss and turn for the remainder of the hours that are acceptable or what normal people consider their sleep hours. We’ll face each other and I’ll feel his breath across my face. Or we’ll both end up bodies fully covered with the sheets eventually that gets too hot and I have to adjust – sticking my foot tentatively out from the side of the sheets or tucking the sheets into my armpit keeping just my arm out in the open air for temperature control. There have been times where I’ve awoken to him on his back, intruding my side of the bed like he is a conqueror, with his arm strewn over my chest, heavy, the weight verging on crushing. Or other times where I wake up and there are what seems like miles between us. Whatever it is that was wrong about that time, I yearn for it now. The rhythm of his breathing, how his breath creates a breeze for the baby hairs at the base of my skull, the tight cocoon of his arms, the gentle caress of this lips as we said good night one last time.

Like everything else in my life, I’m impatient with sleep. I want it to come right away. I do the breathing exercises, I count backwards from 100, heck, I’ve even tried from 1,000. Who has time to exist in the in-between of sleep and awake?! I want to be either asleep or awake, not mulling over my choices for an hour like an indecisive child. But it doesn’t matter what I want, that’s what my body gives me, especially without his rhythm to fall into. I should be thankful sleep comes and goes, instead of comes and stays, right?

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