There is music playing behind a closed door. I know some of the words and it makes me wonder how much brain capacity I use remembering lyrics to songs I used to love but have forgotten about.
I think about how it would feel to be a felt tip pen. Would I write poetry or blank checks or obituaries or numbers or birth certificates? I ask myself questions I will never be able to answer. How many pages have I read? Where will I be when I die? Will I know? Will I be alone? How long would it take me to lose fifty pounds if I just stopped eating? What will my child know that I never even had the option to learn? How many times have I swept a floor, slipped my shoes on, fallen asleep on accident?
My husband is home, all the lights are on, there is a fake Christmas tree in the front window. Only the top half is decorated. The air smells like pine and smoke and the sulfur of a match tip. I wish it was cold, that is would snow, that I could sit and watch frost crystalize on the windows.
I want to kiss my husband, but I don’t because he looks at me like he would just rather sleep. I wonder how many times I have whispered “I love you’s” into the crook of his neck. I want to know if he believes me when I say it or if thinks it’s like playing back an answering machine message , every day for seven years. I want him to know it is not a prompted knee bounce, a marital reflex test. He is not a doctor, and I am not a patient. He is just a man, who walks around in his underwear and starts conversations with “I was listening to NPR and …” . I am just a woman, who is still learning what it means to be and cannot sleep with my feet underneath the covers. I don’t ask him if he knows love tumbles out when I open my mouth to breathe.
I don’t want him to know I’ve been crying while he drove the baby around in calculated circles, coaxing her eyes to close, tiny hand fisted into the warm fleece of her pajamas. I let my eyes drop shut; I pretend I am tired. I am not waiting for him, simply for sleep. I do not want him to know that I need him and I don’t know why.
He asks me what I am writing and I tell him “I don’t know”. He says “I love you”. I confuse him but in a good way. He rubs my feet and I say “thank you” because I don’t know what else to say. My throat aches from all the sobs I have trapped there. I have words written on my feet in permanent marker that will come off with tomorrow’s shower. He reads them but does not ask. I have nothing to tell. “You can go to bed,” I say. He has work in 4 hours. I will be while he sleeps and then he will be while I sleep. Some days we are the sun and the moon, only existing when the other is out of reach.
My daughter is sleeping because it is very early or very late. I want to know what she dreams of. Her whimpers wake me sometimes, her eyelids flutter and I imagine that her blue eyes are open and she is looking at me. I hold her against the comma of my body, each night a reminder that babies don’t keep. She is long and thin like her father. Her head nestles just below my chin and her feet rest on my knees. Someday she will look down on me. Guilt rises in the back of my throat like bile. I whisper to her “You are not keeping me from anything; you are everything”.
On good days, she throws herself at me, arms open, her small pink mouth quirked with joy. She embraces me with her whole body, her arms are around my neck, one foot hooks onto my belt buckle, while the other slips gracefully into my front pocket. She has a runny nose. She presses a warm kiss to my lips and tips her head back to laugh. She does not worry if she feels too much. I envy her freedom, her ability to give as she wishes.
My dog has stolen all the blankets. He is old and blind. Sometimes he is crazy. I think about all the things he has lost and let him keep the covers, balled under him a stark white juxtaposed against his unruly black coat.
I want to know what it would be like to be a ; . A pause, a breath, a rest, a promise. Something else is coming. You’ll have to wait and see.