The new moon has devoured all the light in the night sky except for the stars so my bedroom is totally dark. I raise myself on my elbows and listen; Lucas is on the floor to my left, with Lilith just west of him. Lucas snores on occasion but he and his sister are breathing in unison now, two hearts beating with wind ensemble and the music makes me want to lie back down and drift again into slumber. Sam’s ragged breathing from the north side of the bed reminds me he is there, too.
“It won’t be long, Mike.” And I knew she was there before she spoke.
“I know.” And I do know it. But I have known it for a while. Sam’s life is slowly ebbing away from him like a feather dropped from a very tall tree. It isn’t over yet. Sam is a fighter. Sam is a survivor. Sam has lived through Holocaust Level hell on this earth the only two things he has never known is peace and how to quit. Sam stays alive because it’s the only thing he’s ever really done well, except kill. Life and Death; the sleek and shiny black puppy I saved from being a skeleton with a patchy coat has been gone for years now and he’s been replaced by a stumbling and blind skeleton with a patchy coat. The circle is nearly complete. Sam isn’t eating as much as he should and what he does eat isn’t sticking to his ribs as it once did. The last few days have been brutal to him. The heat sucks the life out of him. Sam is now becoming more blind and more deaf more quickly. But Sam struggles to his feet each morning, his front legs trying to provide the support to get him vertical, his nails digging into the carpet, his hind legs trying to get him upright, his tail wagging and his head up. In the thirteen years plus that I have known him Sam has never surrendered one moment of his life to despair.
“He’s my favorite, you know that too, don’t you?” And I can feel the weight of her body on the bed. She’s still well over twenty-five pounds lighter than Lucas even though he’s lost weight. “His body cannot carry as much life as his heart holds love.”
“That’s well said.” And I mean it. “You should put that in a poem”
“Will you help me write it?” Her body weight shifts and I can feel her lying back on the bed. Where he voice comes from changes direction. I can feel her turn to face me but I cannot see anything at all in the darkness.
“I’m not much of a poet.” I say to her, somewhere in the darkness.
“You keep telling people that.” She sighs and shifts her weight again. I hear her shoes drop to the floor.
“It’s true.” I say and I resist the urge to reach out for her. She will join me if she’s going to and if she’s not then trying to hurry her will break the spell.
“It’s true you don’t try. It’s true you don’t allow yourself to be a bad poet in order to become a better one. It’s true that you don’t want that part of your soul back from where you left it last time. It’s true that you aren’t making any damn effort.” She rattles this off and I realize she set the conversation up to head in this direction. “It’s true” she says but this time her words are as gentle as an admission. I feel her weight shift again like the water tipped in a small vase.
I hear the sound of fabric on skin, the sliding of a simple dress away from a body and the hesitation of nudity where there was none a few seconds ago. I feel her ease back into a prone position, the decision not really made, and yet the power of desire beginning to build between us, memories, promises, and heat. This is what it is between us, really, when everything else is stripped away, like the clothes we dress our lives in. She wants me to desire her, she wants me to know of her desire, but even when she is there, near the end of the bed, nude, she wants me to wait for her to come to me. I’m not allowed to reach out and grab her even though there isn’t anything else I rather do. It’s the balance of a moonbeam on a fingertip, the resting of a bubble on the palm of the hand or it’s the smell of incense in the room that cannot be brought closer by any other means than just to breathe it in. If I am incapable of that there will be so much more, so many other times, I will not be able to…
She takes her hair down and I know at this point she’s made her mind up but I know she doesn’t know. I feel her shake her head to loosen her locks she had imprisoned. Maybe she wanted to look severe and maybe this was not on her mind or maybe she told herself it wasn’t. I can tell the freedom feels good to her. She reaches out and touches my foot and squeezes, and now, at this moment, I know she’s asking me to wait, openly, admitting for the first time out loud with a touch that something, wait for something, for that moment in her mind that will guide her. I’ve never understood this part about women but I’m not supposed to understand. It isn’t my place to ask for, or receive, an explanation. In the near total darkness I feel the weight of her body shift and she slips slowly towards me in silence. The empty space beside me is filled with a shadow in the darkness and suddenly she is not only in the room with me, not only on the bed with me, but she is with me.
“Hold me,” she whispers and that is all. Her body melds into mine and her arms, her hands, and every nerve and cell of her body is welded to mine in a way that defies any sort of explanation. I draw her close in the darkness and feel her breath, smell the life of her body, feel the excitement in the hairs on the back of her neck, and she brushes her lips against my own neck, with promises, later, later, but now…