When He Fell Asleep

It was a beautifully heartbreaking moment. We were lying there in the dark, sharing thoughts in whispers. Listening to the house quieting down around us. We had been touching, tangling for so long it felt sweet to sink into the downy pillows. We lapsed into silence. The fan was whirring above us and the frogs formed a faint chorus outside. His breathing began to slow and deepen, shuddering slightly on the inhales. I gripped his arm. He was falling asleep and I was alone right next to him. I wanted to pull him back, to be conscious together and share the beauty of the moment. There was so much to tell him. All the long-lost apologies welled up in my throat and their urgency leaked out from my eyes. We had been together and then I was alone. Please come back.

I was crying now for everyone who has woken up or opened the door or picked up the phone only to find their partner is gone forever. I cried for all the hurt in the world and it came to me in gasping sobs. I shook quietly so as not to wake him. He was so peaceful. His shape was perfect against the bed. I sat there watching him, hoping he would wake up and hoping he wouldn’t. I wanted to say I needed him but it wasn’t true. I needed to have my hair stroked, to be held tight, and to love fiercely without cause or hesitation. In that moment, I did. I longed to press my hands to his cheeks and kiss his forehead and love him with abandon. It was enough to imagine how we could change the world if we tried.

As I eased myself out from under the covers, he grabbed me in his sleep, slipping his hand down my torso as if to keep me there. I paused. I knew it wouldn’t last, and I cried for that too. It was time to go home.

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