She walked in to find him lying face-down on the floor in the middle of the room. The afternoon rays shone directly onto his back as though he was the center of the sun’s attention.
For a moment she stood at the edge of the room watching his torso rise and fall with his breathing. He didn’t sleep much, but when he did, it was deep and it was for a long time.
She slipped off her shoes and crossed the living room to the kitchen. She unpacked and put away the groceries, still watching him. Then she took the unfinished bottle of wine he had left on the counter and went to sit on the floor next to him.
She took a sip of wine as her eyes traveled up his body to rest on his peaceful, beautiful face. She wondered what he was dreaming about. He always said he didn’t remember his dreams – “It’s just blissful unconsciousness, babe” – but she liked to think that as he slept he lived all that he could never quite reach when he was awake: having a carefree smoke with his younger brother who had been refusing to talk to him for the past three years; finally tracking down the man he had foolishly sold his grandfather’s pistol to when he was 19 and in need of money; holding in his arms the baby they had been trying for so long to have. She wished, so much, that in his dreams he would find himself happy.
She took a last drink to finish the bottle and then lay down next to him face-to-face as close as she could without touching him. She looked down at his slightly-opened lips and thought of the first time she had felt them against hers. It had been so long ago, 12 years, and so much had been different. She had felt unsure, about him, about them, about what she really wanted. But then he had kissed her, unexpectedly, and all that had changed. She had looked up from their kiss to meet his earnest, steady eyes full of confidence that with one look erased all the questioning in hers.
Her questioning. That first kiss had removed doubts of starting a life with him, and that life so far had assured her that these last 12 years had not been wasted. But what about tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the next 10?
Her eyes moved up to meet his, closed as he slept on. She couldn’t give him his brother. She couldn’t return to him the unmatched bond he had had with his grandfather. She had been trying, for months and months, to give him a child. She didn’t know if she ever would. She didn’t know if she ever could give anything more.
She stared at his closed eyes and reached up to lightly trace the crease of his eyelids with her fingers. What was behind his eyes now? Was it still steady confidence? Would he wake to erase her questioning once again?
She moved closer to him, this time wanting to touch him as much as she could, to feel his strong body next to hers. She pressed against him and felt him stir. She felt his arm reach out and wrap around her waist, drawing her even closer. Still gazing at his eyes, she watched them slowly open.
“Hi,” he said hoarsely and his lips spread into a gentle smile.
She looked, searched, for all she could find in his now open eyes. And then all she could respond was, “Kiss me.”
(Song: “Between the Bars,” by Elliott Smith)