#21 Melanie Legge

This Last Moment

I’m in a world where reality is whatever my mind can think of.  A world where my mind is controlled by something other than my consciousness.

I’m aware of the blanket laying on my skin, I’m aware of the sun light trying to find it’s way through the slats in the blinds.  I feel the warmth envelope me, I feel safe.  I feel close to myself.  I’m conscious of being half way between sleep and something else.  I allow my mind to wander far into itself, taking tiny steps all over my body, exploring itself, its haven.

I feel something cold touch the sole of my foot. My body snaps, my mind leaps in a second back to where it belongs.  My foot pushes against the cold.  It’s yours.  I feel your toes under mine.

The sun light that was trying to squeeze its way through the blinds, creating shards of light across my bed remains for another moment, until I realise that I’m not there.  That bed doesn’t exist yet, except in my mind, in the world I have created far away from here, where the bed is not ours; just mine.  The sun light is sucked from this existence, to another place where I’m not.  This is our bed; where your light doesn’t have any open slats to try and squeeze through.

Without opening my eyes I can feel it’s dark still.  I wonder if it is night or day, and a feel a sharp pain sear through my brain.  I try to lick my lips, my tongue is dry and swollen.  Confusion reigns only for a second longer while I pull all of the evidence I have together to form a jigsaw of memories, a tale of last night.  Nothing. There is no tale, only an existence; the TV was on, we drank wine, and went to bed, to sleep. The silence between us last night louder than it’s ever been before, as I sat on the sofa beside you transfixed for hours by a smudge on the wall.  I slowly drank my way through two bottles of wine to pass the time.  By the time we went to bed I had made up my mind, I think you had too.  We just wanted to take a tiny bit more.

So many times before, you would stretch your arm out across the pillow and tell me to ‘come here for a cuddle’. And I would lay my head on your shoulder, my fingers resting lightly on your stomach, your fingers entwined in my hair, and we would drift off to sleep together.  Not last night though.  You rolled over, showing me your back, and knowing I would notice, said “I’m aching, I need to lay on my left side”.

No problem.

Paranoia has taken far too many of my waking hours recently, so I try not to wonder if the reason you don’t want me to “come here for a cuddle” this time, is because you know as well as I do that our time is up now.  Except by tying not to wonder, I’m wondering without allowing conclusion.  It’s easier that way.  But it means these thoughts can’t be filed away just yet, until a conclusion is allowed to complete them.  The conclusion hurts.  Knowing it will hurt is conclusion within itself.

Your feet are cold, I hear you “Mmmm…” because mine are warm.  I let my other foot slide over yours, and rest there, our feet lock into place, and I feel the cold start to evaporate, replaced with my warmth. I breathe in a faint trace of the scent of your hair.  I try to catch what that smell provokes inside me.  I wonder how and where it touches me.  Missing what should come naturally, trying too hard to be aware. Trying to reconnect, rebalance my consciousness and my senses.

I feel my breath against my own face.  It’s because I’m so close to you.  My breath reverberating off your shoulder, with nowhere to escape but back to me. I listen to my breathing, I can hear yours too; mine is quicker than yours. I wonder if you are listening to my breathing too, I wonder if it’s making you think anything.  I wonder if my breathing is too fast, I wonder if you’re assuming that I’m feeling something because my breathing has quickened. I don’t want you to think I’m feeling anything.  It’s easier that you don’t.  I try to slow.  I try to breathe in time with you, I feel your rib cage expand and contract beneath my fingers, and for the first time, I realise my hand is resting lightly on your side. I become aware of my hand, and allow my fingers to move only a tiny fraction, barely enough for you to notice, but enough to be able to feel the texture of your skin beneath them, where your t-shirt has ridden up a few inches.

I concentrate again on your breathing, I breathe in unison with you.  We breathe in waves.  In and out, our chests up and down, together.  I allow my mind to follow the rhythm.  I allow the colours behind my eyelids to begin to wash back and forth, like a gentle tide, in time with us.  We could be floating now, on waters so still that the only movement on its surface is created by our chests rising and falling in time.  I hear a quiet beat in my mind, our bodies sway to it; the beat of our breath.  I’m interrupted by a thought of what is to come, and I fall out of time with you.  The beat stops and our floating bodies sink beneath waves.

It’s only here, in the darkness, where our world stretches no further than to the tips of the duvet that’s draped over our bodies; that we are allowed to be soft still.  To allow our breaths to share the same space, to allow our fingers to touch without purpose, to allow ourselves to be warmed by the others body heat, to allow ourselves to feel the comfort of the touch of a finger tip, a breath, the movement of a foot.  To feel each others heart beat.  We can do all of this while we pretend to be asleep, when we don’t have to face the consequences of stealing these moments from someone we know we should be learning to be comforted without.

I wonder if you actually are asleep, or if you are stealing the same moment I am.  And I don’t care.  I’m happy right here, I’m happy allowing our unspoken boundaries to bleed slightly.  I’m happy pretending not to be aware of what’s about to happen.  Just for this last moment.  Reminding myself how you feel when you’re not sad; when I’m not sad.  What it feels like to have your soul lay next to mine, quietly, uninterrupted.

Except we are interrupted.  The join between us used to be seamless.  Now it’s clear to see where I end and you begin.  Neither of us know how or why or where the divide began to form between us.  But we have silently acknowledged it.

I feel your heart beating. I try to count the beats and read some message in them.  I’m sure it’s harder and faster than it usually is.  Are you scared?

I am.  It’s ok.  You’ll be ok.  So will I.

I lay my arm over you, pressing my body into your back.  Squeezing you close to me.  Your heart beats against my chest.  I close my eyes, squeeze them closed as tightly as I can.  I feel your heart beat through mine, I concentrate on its rhythm, trying to slow it with my mind, willing it to calm.  Convinced that if I clear my mind enough, concentrate on you enough, I can enter your head, and make it easier for you.  Make it so your heart doesn’t beat like this, your breaths don’t come so fast, and your body can relax.

You turn your body.  I don’t make any effort to move my arm which is draped over you.  You are facing me.  I don’t open my eyes.  I can still make you think I was asleep.  Use sleep as an excuse to hold on to you so tightly.

Your face meets mine, your forehead pressed against mine, your nose resting against my cheek.  Your face is wet. Tears.  I feel panic rise within me as tears threaten my own closed eye lids.

I slide my legs away from yours, rolling my body away. My feet reach the floor, and I head for the doorway.

“No.” you say.

I turn to look at you. You have lifted your head from the pillow.  You’re not crying but your cheeks are wet.  Our eyes lock, and in that very moment, I look so far into you, I see every memory of us flash through your eyes.  And then it stops.  Blank.  Dead.  Finished.  The End.

You begin to nod slowly. I know what you are telling me, and with a frozen heart, I nod my head slightly back at you.  I go to where my clothes are piled in the corner of the room on the floor and pull them on. Without lifting my eyes from the floor, I go to the bedroom door, walk through it, down the stairs, out of the front door, down the path and up the street… heading towards a room far away that has blinds, with slats, where the light can shine through when the sun comes up.

Melanie Legge, Manchester UK.

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