An episode from the middle

She always slept as though she had a fever: her limbs restless, her mind in overdrive. She would rub her legs against one another, attempt to bring the blanket around and under her feet, while simultaneously wanting to cover her ears. He would wake up feeling a little cold, the hair on his arms standing up, the bumps on his skin not allowing him to return to his slumber. Even if he turned just a little bit, maybe six degrees, her eyes would open. On many nights, these eyes would stare at him, as though accusing him of having woken her up. Her irritation at him would be followed by her guilt at this irritation.

He tried hard, tried his best to tiptoe. He had always been good at walking on his toes. How did he manage that? A man, solid in every sense, being graceful. It made her think of Titanic-Kate-Winslet being a man. She watched him tiptoe to the bathroom, and back into bed. She felt him reaching out for the bottle of water she kept on her side, the sound of his one long and unhurried swallow. Other nights, she watched him tiptoe to the kitchen, he was often hungry. She heard him open the refrigerator, and then the low hum of the microwave oven as he heated the milk, careful to turn off the oven before it beeped, signalling the end of two minutes. She heard him rummaging in the cabinets.

She enjoyed putting things away, in boxes, in draws, stacked neatly, arranged in perpendicular and parallel ways, grouped in a scheme that would require a key to decipher – or you could ask her. She was the kind who left post-it notes so that you found what you were looking for, without disturbing the order of things. He could not imagine the stress this caused her – when he left his slippers carelessly like an acute angle, instead of side by side perfectly touching all the way in the middle, when he spilled water and did not wipe the spill immediately, when he left the towel hanging but the lines were not straight.

She turned on her side to face him as he returned, sometimes the sight of her open eyes in that moment made him think of a scene from a horror movie. He sat there for a beat, and then put his head down on her outstretched arm. He liked the small smile that appeared on her lips. He waited for her to drift back to sleep. Sometimes she talked, or murmured, or read. Though he could never understand that – how does one read in their sleep? Do the words appear to her in the dream? She told him they do, line after line, paragraphs with phrases and pauses, with descriptions and dialogue. She had other dreams, bad ones mostly. She liked to narrate them to him in the mornings, making up some of the details that the night’s sleep had blurred. Her dreams were not terribly imaginative, they were mostly about what was happening to her, everyday events, blended with her fears. She never failed to wake up during the climax. Real life would have to reveal the ending.

When she asks him if he slept well, he only says yes. He does not tell her he watches her for many minutes, till the minutes become hours.

This post is my entry to Yeah Write Weekly Writing Challenge #206 – Weekend Writing Showcase
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