She Cried for Clean Hands
She heard him sigh and felt him inch closer. The room was dark, the raspberry blanket clung to their skin. He inhaled with a rhythmic and consistent predictability and exhaled with dominance, like usual. His breath was a protective embrace. His sleeping next to her was all that reminded her she was not an abused and tortured damsel, as she often was in her uncontrollable and syncopated dreams.
She was lost in sleep next to him. She was lost most of the time. The inside of her eyelids fettered her to a world that was too cruel for her to see when she was awake. She was not controlled, she was not content, she was not conscious of her actions and she was inconsistent. She was asleep, and the walls she built to protect her fragile skin and soul had deteriorated. She was shaking, her breathing was clustered and heavy, her makeup was on her hands and pillowcase as she twisted out of control. Se cried when she was alone, and when she was helpless, and being asleep made her both of those things. For even with him beside her, a rare delight, she was still sleeping alone.
He woke up to the reverberations from her frantic motion and the muffled alarm of her crying. He knew he was next to her, he could feel her damp body heat against his side of the blanket. She then felt his hand beneath the fabric of her college sweatshirt, a memoir of a time he belonged to no one and occasionally walked the nineteen steps to hold her at night. His hands felt cold, his fragile fingers always kept a chill. His clean hands belongs on piano keys, they were for rinsing conditioner, and turning the pages of The Times.
She shivered and whimpered at him. Half in response to his touch, and half because the guilt set in, and she fathomed his obligation to wake up and tame the wild within her was as aggravating and unromantic as a parent feeding a baby at four a.m. She curled in on her side to hide her make-up smeared eyes and hands, to protect him from having to cater to that as well. She was uncomfortable, she was already selfish and impotent. So she stretched and sprawled and begged him with unspoken neediness to control her. She was waiting for him to back up so she could fall back asleep with a clear conscience and dirtied hands. he needed to go back to his side of the bed, and release her into the isolating depths of her dreams.
He whispered, “you’re okay” and his hand warmed on her back. The two words, barely audible, brought her to life. She was no longer alone, she was no longer asleep, she was no longer in a nightmare. He, in initiating some contact, had given her control. Her walls were ready to rise between them again, she prepared to turn away from him to the horrors of her sleep. Part of her wanted him to fall back into rhythmic breathing, and find the peace her sobs and motions had slaughtered. Part of her was selfish and scared, and wanted his clean hands to soak the stains of a million bad dreams from her memory.
She screamed for him, like she had a million times in her nightmares. Her lips didn’t move, his name wasn’t echoed, but she screamed. She prayed he would hold onto her, as she told herself not to be needy. She was alone in that, like in a dream, she was distant and thus incapable of articulating the needs she deemed masochistic victims of suppression.
He took his hand from her back and lingered his structure bluntly against her. Refusing her walls reconstruction, and forcing her to be vulnerable. He sighed, his breath was warm and felt almost like compassion against her skin, but she couldn’t be sure because it had been so long since she’d been blessed with such a feeling.
He huffed in adjustment and his flat, broad shoulders collided with her coiled and helpless body. She extended next to him, to echo his aura of composure. She again whimpered, this time in fear of rejection, but she kept her back straight. He faded back to what she perceived as unaffected sleep. She unwillingly, but obligatorily, began to inch away from him, to remover herself from the safety and sanity of his presence. He shifted and whimpered in response to the distance between them. He plunged his hands beneath the blanket that concealed them, and took her hand in his. He bent his arm back up, and used her new found composure to pull himself closer to her. She again, listened to him sigh and felt him move closer.
With her fingers intertwined in his, she breathed more steadily she closed her eyes to fall back into a slumberous hell. The only difference being she couldn’t toss and turn or coil, or cry out to someone to far away to hear. Because he was right there, stabilizing her, and even in the worst of nightmares- and the darkest of depths, she felt like he did every night he spent at home with his wife. Having him next to her meant reality was not an isolated hell her thoughts provoked when the screaming of fluorescent lights and day jobs couldn’t quiet their nonsense. Her stable position allowed her to apperceive a reality that wasn’t sleeping with nightmares, that was waking up to consistent breath and clean hands.