July 26, 2006


By Mella © 2006

The room seemed larger at night. The corners receded into black, the walls pressed back by shadows, everything coated in a thin veil of blue-gray moonlight. It spilled in through the sheer curtain, flooding the wooden floor. The air was thick, and it smelled like us; sex and sleep. I was swimming in it, alone.

It took her hours to fall asleep. The blankets and pillows would disappear, swallowed between her knees. She grunted and sighed and shifted well past our last goodnight. She was miserable. We were miserable. It was her stomach that had awoken me; swollen and tight like a drum, it nudged against my back.

I was careful not to disturb her as I slid from the bed; gingerly lowering my feet to the pool of wavering light. I quietly eased the door enough to press myself past into the hall.

The nursery door was cracked open, a wedge of blue light cut across the dark floor. I pushed it wide and leaned against the doorframe. The room had been easy to convert; a few layers of blue paint, a truck or two on the dresser. I stared at the crib’s solid wood legs pressing inch-deep into the new carpet. The changing table was the same, a little wooden cart with a lip so that the baby doesn’t roll off. But the crib was new, it was the thing she insisted that we change.

I closed the door behind me and followed the wall into the kitchen. Her fat gym bag was sitting beside the door, waiting. I nudged it with my toe, remembering the soft weight of it over my shoulder the first time, as we hobbled to the car, stopping to breathe at each flagstone.

I reached down and tugged the side pocket open. Lip-gloss, hair ties and a soft cover book. I shoved a packet of cookies in and pushed the bag back against the wall. I sat on the counter with a glass of milk and stared at it. Ready to go.

I held her for weeks after it happened. We’d never slept so close; my nose and lips resting on the back of her head; the soft curve of her back pushing against my stomach. I could feel her heart beating under my arm. Neither of us slept well, but we were too afraid to pull apart and feel the chill of it all alone. Exposed.

Do you think she felt anything? She asked me calmly, as I lay behind her. It was the first sentence she spoke about it without her voice wavering or faltering to tears. I tightened my hold on her, burying my face in her neck. She was warm and smelled sweet like vanilla - like coming home. Her hair fell around my eyes. I felt my lips brushing over her soft skin, as I answered, no.

My hand slid down the length of her side and then lingered on the small of her back. It was the first time we had made love since Claire. At first we were bumpy and awkward, like strangers meeting in tangled sheets. But, when she turned towards me and pulled my face to hers, firmly, bringing our lips together; we returned to one another in the gentle pulse of lips and skin.

Mella is a full-time grad student and over tired mama, staving off insanity by writing.

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