Thursday, June 10, 2010

a few days later:

You've spent the last four out of five nights in her arms and the last three out of four nights in her bed.

Last night, she stayed in yours.

You open your door and let her inside your small basement apartment. She takes off her shoes at the door.

"My landlord won't let me get a dog," you say.

"Our landlord doesn't know about Larry," she says, smiling to herself. "We thought about painting him in camo so they don't find out about him."

"Let's hope he's not as allergic I am," you say. You rub your eyes in reflexive relief. "I swear to God, I'm allergic to everything but plywood."

"Does this mean you won't toss and turn so much tonight?" she asks. You notice yourself smiling about four seconds after you begin to do so.

"I don't kick!"

"You do too," she says. "It's like the World Cup in a bed with you."

"I think it's just new places, you know?" She nods. "Just getting my sea legs or something. Was it bad last night?"

"Not as bad, but bad enough to joke about it tonight." She kisses you on the cheek and walks through your kitchen.

She admires the contents of your bookshelves. She asks about the nature of the framed Iron Giant poster on your wall and she pontificates on the predictability of most mens' walls. Reservoir Dogs, Scarface, or Boondock Saints. She's relieved that you prefer giant cartoon robots from outer space. So are you.

"How long have you lived here?" she asks, pointing to a stack of cardboard boxes in the corner.

"About a month. Just haven't felt like I was missing whatever is in those boxes."

"What's in them?"

"Don't know. Obviously nothing important, since I didn't label them."

"Did you label your other boxes?"

"No, I don't think so." You scratch your head. "Figured I'd just stop unpacking when I had what I needed, I guess."

"What a strange approach." She kisses your cheek and walks back into the bedroom. Her eyes take in every corner, wall, floor, trim, molding. "I'm really impressed with your decorum." She points to your bed. "Queen size?"

"Yeah," you say, your words washing her worries away. "So even if I do kick, you can just scoot away."

"Oh," she smiles, "you think I'm gonna stay the night, do you?" She wraps her arms around your neck like duct tape. Her forearms are warm and her fingers lock behind your head. You steal a peck and smile like the morning.

"There's precedent, sure."

"This would be a first."

"I like firsts." You kiss the tip of her nose. She laughs louder than you expect. "See? I've never kissed your nose. There's a first."

"Don't get too ahead of yourself," she says, her smile covering what seems like hesitation.

"This isn't a place that you should be worried about being." You brush a maverick strand of her merlot hair behind her ear. "And it's nowhere you should feel obligated to stay."

She sighs. "It's not obligation." She looks over your shoulder, into the living room, into the bathroom, into the kitchen. "This is all just new for me."

"What's new for you?"

"Just feeling at ease like this." She slides her chin over your shoulder and lets it rest there. You can feel her pulse against your chest. She's turned from a body into a single heartbeat. "This isn't normal."

"Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, it's not that." She lifts a hand to her forehead and rubs it. "I just keep waiting for something to go wrong."

Without her shoes on, she's a solid inch-and-a-half shorter than you'd thought. It's not like you two are always wearing shoes, but you're always surprised at how much taller you are than she is. How she manages to keep her chin flung over your shoulder without standing on tippy-toes is a question for physicists, not for you, but gift horses and mouths and all that. You give her a little squeeze and kiss her ear.

"Everything's going to be fine."

"I know," she says, "but I'm not used to thinking so."

"Another first."

She turns off the light, crawls into bed, and calls your name after she tangles between down comforter and ivory sheets. You join her and you two sleepy soundly.

You have a dream that her hair grows and grows and grows until it's long enough that she weaves it into a raft and the two of you venture down the Amazon and she takes a picture of a rare Sumatran swinging rat monkey and she wins a Pulitzer Prize and you become the guy that was riding the boat when she won the Pulitzer Prize and you've never been more happy about anything in your life.

You wake up to her snoring at 9:42 AM and wonder if she'd thank you in a real-life Pulitzer acceptance speech.


Joanna Brimhall said...

I just want to say that what you write is so beautifully vivid. If I had dreams like this, I wouldn't want to wake up.

Julie said...

I am so glad she snores.