Untitled (short story revised)

I steal a peak at my past. My eyes dart open, suddenly uneasy in the slumbering peace of this new place. My body acutely aware of the slouching air mattress below us. For years we slept beside our children on this air bed’s ancestor – the same queen size but inflated to it’s maximum fullness –  the only time it felt like a bed. Back when the memories of a real mattress were still imprinted on my formerly pregnant body.
In those days I  envied my newborn daughter, Niyati, as she laid (lay) in the freedom of her own crib. Her older brother would create mazes of comforter and bed sheets beside us, forcing us to lay like grilled cheese (legos?)against the long mahogany table of Nana’s living room. Every night, without fail, he’d fall asleep first. Before turning off the television I’d steal a glance at his sleeping face, bask in the solace it displayed while the fading light danced across his smiling mouth. I’d wonder if he was dreaming of me before plunging us into darkness. Tonight, sleeping a foot away, stealing a glance at his slumbering solace, I know better than to think of wondering. I know I am the furthest thought from his mind; even unconsciously.
Now, retreating back to my own mind, I steal a peak at my past and search blindly for my cozy socks. Years spent with project heat and carpeted floors, my body forgot how cold hardwood can get. Finding my socks, I let the white walls lead me one door down to the bathroom. Relieving myself, my body registers the decreased temperature and responds with haste. Two steps later, I’m back in the room completing the nightly ritual of bed re-inflation.
Back in my bundle of comforters, they meld to my familiar skin, slowly the warmth begins returning to my legs, creeping up my thighs. I wrap myself tighter and pull up the dangling side sheet under my behind. The required half turn brings me back and I steal a peak at my  past. His familiar faint scent – death and nicotine – lingers around my nostrils and tempts me to steal another peak. Seemingly asleep, his breath is light and even; almost still. Barely noticeable if not for my studying of what once was. Satisfied it will never be again I burrow back into the blankets, turning my back to what was.
And then I feel it. Feel him. His energy rushes over me. It slams my psyche like a tsunami. It crashes against the shore of my body. Heat rushes through my torso spreading as wings through my ribs down to my exposed lower buttock. It dances on my upper thigh, reverberating a light throb inward.
“I can feel you, you know.” I throw out the words with a hand in disbelief of what my body just experienced. Two years divorced, yet I remain sensitive  to his energy.  My hand finds him where I left him, laying two feet away, his skeletal hip smooth and exposed under his side of the comforters. My hand probes further down his thigh to the brim of his long johns and boxers. He’s growing.
“I was gonna ask you if you wanted some head first.” He replies – smart ass know-it-all that he is-  his smirk glows with a lost passion. I chuckle to myself nodding my head coyly, allow myself to succumb to the living memory. I roll fully on to my back until we are face to face. Staring up at him I see his smile in the dark growing larger until it hovers over my lips and kisses me. Boom. Connection. The routine. For one moment, I believe the lie I used to tell myself. I loose my body to his grasp and slowly transform into liquid in his arms. Song lyrics jingle through my mind as he conducts a symphony with his tongue.
tell me a secret
tell me a story
tell me anything 
to keep my love
The music fades, its over.  I’m cleaning myself off in the bathroom when the guilt sets in. Splash cold water on my face to calm the anxiety. And I catch her. Eyes of my past staring back at me, finally happy to have lived one moment of her dream; living like a real family. We’re in our own home. Raising our children by our own rules. While they slumber in their own beds;  we love each other in the comfort and privacy of our own room. No one interrupting us with their shock or disgust for a husband loving his wife – even if for just a moment, even if it was fake – she is satisfied – ready to leave. I feel my body expel the broken pieces of her heart.  I am freed.
A moment later I am alone again. Staring back at the godis’ eyes. My stare searches a mosaic of a woman. Her truths complexity is beautiful and consuming. I sometimes think the last place she’d want to be is alone, yet her gaze exudes her love of the freedom gained over the last 3 years. She tells me, “The threat of losing someone is what makes us keep them close; cling to them like tree sap. Except it doesn’t work. The truth is” she continues “that if you set something free and it never comes back, you were under an illusion, thinking that it was yours to begin with.”
Back in the still of the bed I accept her words as the most accurate description of my life, former marriage and current partnership. He was never mine. Not ever. Not as I carried half of him inside me, manifesting his legacy. Not when we repeated vows for no other ears but ours. Not in the gratitude his eyes would speak when his body was too weak to form words on his lips. He was never mine. And now after a session in his new beginning, his lips confirm the accuracy of my perception.
Again, I am freed. Washed over in what my brain can only decipher as relief emanating throughout my body. Why now, I can not begin to imagine. I have imagined enough for this lifetime. I can no longer consider the past as I have come to know it in my mind. That is not this. That was an illusion, a fantasy dreamed up by a broken heart that only knew broken love. This is reality, where my heart is whole and healed. Understanding all its past mistakes without repetition it still beats, It now know we complete ourselves as we continue to grow. I used to think a partner should or would complete us. So eager for what it wanted my heart had never considered the family having a dreamers constitution would create. But no castle is sound when it’s built on quicksand.
Love!?! HA!!!!
People as broken as us should know better than to try to love each other. At least not in the way I dared to dream it was –  in the beginnings of our life together. Time. Present. History… All show me, have taught me, i stuffed the deck. It was never in the cards for us.
There is no doubt I will be happy.   I will be loved. I will grow and prosper. I will laugh and enjoy each day as if it was my last. I will love others, as will he. But to fall freely & willingly into a love without restraint or conditions is no longer on the table. My stamina for that type of love is shot.
Mayhaps, when I am older and less concerned with giving myself away – if he ever recognizes me as a woman deserving of unyielded, no hold barred, over the moon, ET phone home, fierce revolutionary type of love – I  will consider returning to the illusion that he could be mine and I his. Until then, the past remains peacefully settled behind me. The children are tucked in their new beds. I am fully warmed, and finally getting to sleep. And . . . every  now and then . . . I steal a peak at my past.
**edited by Melissa Hunter Gurney, co-founder of Gamba Zine Magazine. Come hear it live tonight at Gamba Z's Artist Salon at Lucky Luna!!

**Huge thank you to Melissa Hunter Gurney, co-founder of Gamba Zine Magazine for editing this story. Come hear it live Monday Feb. 2nd  at Gamba Z’s Artist Salon at Lucky Luna!! Click here for details.


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