As usual, I wake up three minutes before my alarm goes off. I just lay there, staring at the ceiling, noticing for the first time a crack in the paint above our bed. I wonder how long it would take for the crack to grow enough that a chip of paint would fall in my mouth as I slept. I recall that vague idea we all hear growing up about the average human eating such-and-such number of spiders in their lifetime, and the only conclusions us laypersons ever arrived at to explain this is that they must crawl into our mouths while we slept. This is disconcerting to some, but I’ve never really found much of a problem with it. We let so many other things inside of us, “spiders” is perhaps the least illogical of them all. Hot water strained through the ground, dried, and roasted seeds of an otherwise tasty berry? Omelets made with what are more or less the products of daily chicken periods? The squashed and processed remains of a peanut and a grape spread on dry-heated, germ-infused, ground-up wheat plants? Gummi Bears? Wives?
Finding myself waxing metaphorical now, I look over to this “Other” I’ve let into my body, into my mind–into my heart and life. The sun is surprisingly bright at this particular time on this particular day. I take in her shape, seeing all of the odd dips and curvatures that make this body hers and and hers alone. And mine. A line runs through my head:
by sunlight slits
through bedroom blinds.
After a honeymoon shared.
I catch myself. It’s been years since the last time I noticed my mind composing verse. Why has it been so long? Why did I do it just now? Why is this even a question? Why don’t I have an answer?
The alarm rings out with its banshee scream, ceasing my thoughts and drawing forth every curse from within my soul.
She stirs. I close my eyes until I hear her ritualistic morning groan, “turn that fucking thing off”, and then I pretend to wake up. I’ve never really told her my body has become accustomed to giving me a few moments to myself each morning. She likes the idea that we wake up at the same time, and I understand. She feels that the way you wake up sets a tone for the day, and waking up “in sync” means that we live our day “in sync”. I’ve never asked her how this theory holds up for those many days that we are obviously not “in sync”. I don’t want to take that from her.
I dutifully reach over and strike the alarm. I quickly wonder if they design clocks with alarms to withstand more aggression than clocks without. Do they even make clocks without alarms anymore? I notice that I notice how I get out of bed. I did the thrust-your-head-forward-with-a-groan-and-heave-your-torso-upward-to-sit-up-in-bed move (as opposed to the swing-your-legs-out-first or whole-body-rollover moves).
She silently reaches over and grabs her watch off the nightstand, putting it on while still in bed. She stares at it briefly, seemingly trying to argue with the time it stubbornly yells at her. She closes her eyes and brings her hands to her face, wiping the sleep away. She begins massaging her temples, eyes still closed, already thinking through all the things that lay ahead of her today and how she needs to order them and get to them and do them and perform them in the absolute most efficient way possible.
Seeing the process complete, she rolls to her side and moves her feet to the floor. I’m still sitting up, watching her. I notice that I notice the lack of a bra-strap sticking out through the tank top she always wears to bed. I want to move my hand to her back to feel the smooth, uninterrupted plane as it was meant to be touched. I want to slide my hand underneath the tank top to feel the suppleness and warmth of her flesh. I want her to be thinking the same thing right now. I want to be confident that she would be responsive.
I get out of bed and bend down and touch my toes, stretching the muscles that I have imagined as pretzels, ampersands, and fleur de lis in need of straightening. I know this is anatomically not the case, but I find the image nonetheless amusing. She moves with a graceful plod to the bathroom and turns on the water. She leaves the door open. I feel the prick of adolescent voyeurism in my mind, feeling almost a sense of “naughtiness” in my inspiration to look over and steal a glance at her slowly undressing form.
The glance is stolen.
The glance is noticed.
The door is closed.
This work by Paul Burkhart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.