The boy can’t sleep in his own room. Again. “If I sleep in there, I’ll have bad dreams,” he says. It’s late; we’re both tired and frustrated, and I have a habit of giving in to people I love. So I make him a nest of blankets on the floor near the bed, tuck him in with the soft kangaroo, leave the room.
By the time I come back, he’s climbed to the bed where he sleeps like all small children do—at an angle, his limbs an awkward zig zag accompanied by occasional movement, elbows into my edges. When it becomes clear there’s no way for me to sleep comfortably, I abandon my own bed and instead take his twin-sized one in the other room.
It’s colder than mine. I remember thinking this the first time I slept here too, a year ago, when I give my own bed to a man who needs a place to stay for an evening. “I feel bad for taking your bed,” he says, “but we probably shouldn’t share this time.”
“What the hell does that even mean?” I remember thinking. But, “I’m not offering,” is what I actually say instead, and leave. No man had slept in this house before; no other man has slept here still. One night the man I sometimes kiss suggests he come over with his dog and pull down the dusty bottle of Jameson some weekend when we don’t have to get up in the morning. I can’t take him up on his offer. I’m not sure I’ll tell him why.
Last night, in the cold, small bed, I dreamed myself, as if an Alice in reverse, coming out of the madness. There were no rabbit holes nor riddles, no questions I couldn’t answer. I dreamed instead of the ordinary–warm blankets on couches and a body to sit next to, two mugs on a table in morning. Wearing pajama pants, red with penguins. When he told me he liked my hair. How, when he exited through the doorway, he said he’d see me soon. How he’d meant it.
It was the saddest of dreams, about how one can miss the living as much as the dead.
Soon it will be a year since I have seen his face and so I’m having Prosecco like that last night, a bittersweet toast to the darkness I’ve learned to make my own. No longer imagining he’ll remember the way to my door or how we once called each other friend, I’ve gotten over the dumb, sudden shock of that silence.
We’re no longer sharing rooms, no longer sharing spaces, except in my heart, except for the joy I’d always wish him, except at the door I’d always answer or that call I’d always take, though I want too not to mean this, want too, a time when meaning this won’t ache.