His breathing tickles the hairs on the back of my neck again. The warmth of it, so comfortable, so familiar.
Something isn’t right. I lie there, still as a stalking cat, the weight of his arm a comfort against the fear and yet not dispelling it. Not entirely.
It’s that nagging feeling like you’ve left the back door open or forgotten to take the laundry in or something equally mundane. Something important has slipped my attention and I don’t know what it could be. My breathing quick and cautious, his slow and deep.
I do ache. So alert now, I am aware of it. All over my body, like I’ve danced too much. No, that’s not right. Across my gut, like I’m hungry. No. Not a physical ache. More an anguish. My eyes feel fuzzy, and my brain behind them. There is a spider’s web around my head, the familiar tautness of a headache. Like I’ve been crying too much.
I did cry myself to sleep, I remember as he rolls over with a slight snort and his arm slips off me. I snuggle closer, wanting his comfort. Very afraid now, yet not sure why. A frozen rabbit. There’s no reason for this. Eyes wide like a fruit bat. He moves further away; I chase. A sudden bolt of anger unfurls, shivers through me like a snake; filling me like the veins of a leaf. So many nights I have woken and so many nights he has slept through my fear and I have accepted this to let him sleep. Not this time. Tonight I want comfort.
He sighs, relents, an arm back over me. A soft feeling over me, a kitten’s purr in my chest. The arm moves, slips under the cover and caressingly returns to my naked stomach – skin on skin. I realise he’s awake. Or part awake. It’s enough. I am still again but it is not fear or alertness that pins me this time. Now it is anticipation. And sure enough, that arm – cool against my duvet-warmed body – pulls me closer so his warm, warm lips can nibble at my ear. His breathing is cautious now, mine calm. I pretend to sleep but the insistence of his body soon overcomes my charade. A pouncing lioness, I roll over and run my fingers through his mane. Hungry kisses and we soar like albatross.
I know this dance. It ends and leaves me peaceful. Nagging doubts dismissed by love. I sleep.
I wake. The warmth of his body lingers.
But his toothbrush has gone and my tears return.