By Mary-Louise Ruth
The empty bed seemed to float, her body hardly substantial enough to weight it down. She’d lain untouched for so long she’d forgotten the contours of her own body. Even though she slept with him every night they didn’t touch anymore, only his body seemed to fill up the space, crowding out her sleep. Wakeful, she’d cling to her side, fearful of rolling into him, fearful of falling. Longing replaced dreaming. Was it easier to float than to fall? It must be, she thought, stretching her fingers to touch, then grasp, the cool, soft sheet and felt the bed settle to the floor.
She’d almost forgotten how it used to be, his smell still lingering in the rumpled sheets after their morning screw. Night time lovemaking had always been extended, looping up and over and around again, swooping to shared orgasms; in the morning they’d screw, a quick summary of last night’s languid fuck. He’d usually leave early for work while she’d drift back to sleep, but on Sundays they’d have leisurely mornings in bed. Sunday was the worst morning to wake-up alone.
The sun slipped through the shutters warming up the room, amber stripes slanting across the bed, across her naked body. “I have to get up,” she thought, then wondered why. Why wake up to a long daytime of loneliness even with him in the same room? In fact, lonelier when he was there.
His habit now was to awaken early on Sunday and jog down to CC’s on Magazine St. for café au lait with the paper instead of both of them sipping dripped chicory coffee from mugs amidst the Times-Picayune strewn all over their bed. No habits could replace for her the pleasure of his being there, touching him, smelling him, loving him. Talking with him. She’d replaced her loss by drawing down within herself. Into tight corners. Places she knew he couldn’t fit into. She rolled over in bed and slammed one foot on the floor. She wondered if she could fit into those narrow places in herself anymore.
Upright on the side of the bed she thought about her day. Her day. A new thought. Could she make a day her own? Fill up time alone? Would just she, herself alone, fill up a day? The sizzling shower aroused an image of herself beside the lagoon in Audubon Park. Fluorescent pink flamingoes startled by her presence lifting, lifting from the mossy branches to the brilliant blue-white sky. She could get there. Pulling on a tank top and shorts she figured out a route from her house to the lagoon, by the time she’d laced up her Nikes she was almost there.
On the banquette outside their house she decided to avoid CC’s and doubled back a half block to walk down Laurel Street instead. The uneven bricks slowed her down a bit, but now she realized she didn’t have to hurry. She wouldn’t bump into him and have to explain. She’d just be gone.
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