June 5, age 34
"Don't you worry there my honey/We might not have any money/But we've got our love to pay the bills"
-- Ingrid Michaelson
I become aware of the world around me. The chill grazes my exposed skin, the sheet only covering me up to the neck. It gets so hot at night, especially with that man lying right next to me. I mean practically right on top of me, his leg slung over my own lower limbs. Seriously, now considering buying chalk and drawing a line down the middle. Or better yet – obtaining two twin beds and “Ricky and Lucy-ing” it.
I grumble after the weight of Sebastian’s blanket and his side of the sheet plummets onto my body. I know he is grinning to himself as he juts his grasshopper legs out of bed and sits up; I can hear the grin. He knows as soon as he lumbers his way to the bathroom to shave, I cuddle underneath the blanket and sheets to warm up.
I crack open my eyes allowing in just enough light to make out the numbers on the alarm clock before shutting them again and slinking further down under the warm embrace of the covers, luxuriating in their soft feel and gentle lavender scent. I readjust my position and the pillow top mattress curves and supports every inch of me. I purr with satisfaction.
While my husband cleans himself up and dresses for his day, I indulge in this affair with my bed.
Then the stark, bitter scent of brewed coffee drifts to where I hide in my cave of covers and pillows. I lower the covers an inch just enough to free my ear. It picks up the clack of the toaster lever being forced down, the “shh” of the kettle heating water, the sucking thunk of the refrigerator door opening and closing, a knife clattering against a dish – all sounds of love.
I moan in indecision, one love enticing me to stay tucked securely in its arms while the other woos me from the kitchen. I stand quickly removing myself from my place of slumber and throw the sheets to their “tidy position” before that place of slumber can seduce me to be lazy. My feet slide into fluffy purple slippers along their shuffle to the eat-in-kitchen where my dear husband stands at the counter looking tall and slim and everything adorable in his dark-wash jeans and long-sleeve, blue cotton shirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows. I shuffle up behind him and wrap my stubby arms around his long, thin waist. My cheek rests against the warmth of his strong back. No undershirt today; good call as it’s starting to warm up outside, though June has only begun, and full summer is not in swing.
Sebastian’s back muscles shift slightly and his shoulder blades jut in and out beneath my cheek as he scrapes butter and slides strawberry jam over his toast with the knife.
“Morning,” he says.
“Hey,” I breathe.
The hum of his smile floats along to his back and crawls into my ear.
People think I am being silly – even Seb – when I say I can hear his smile whether or not he speaks a word. “I can hear him smiling when he’s talking to me too,” Helena once said to me. “But I’m his mother. A mother hears those things.”
“But, I mean, even if he says nothing, even if I can’t see his face, I know he’s smiling. It makes a sort of hum.”
She, like everyone else, smiled an appeasement thinking, as most people did, how weird I can be. I shrug my shoulders at the assessment, and condone whatever good magic allows me to hear the faint tune of Sebastian’s smile.
Seb breaks from my embrace and, with his toast and mug of coffee – a dash of milk only – sits at the table where his reading selection, recently a music magazine, lays turned to where he had left off yesterday morning.
I turn off the kettle and pour the boiling hot water over my builder’s tea teabag. Seb has slathered butter and jam on my toast already, so I set the plate on the table while I wait for the tea to steep. I select a book of Edgar Allen Poe stories from the bookshelf by the table and set it beside my plate. Finally I remove the teabag from my “Queen’s Cup” mug, dump it in the trash can, and plop four sugar cubes into the tea and stir.
I’ve always preferred sugar cubes to pouring sugar. When I was very young, before my parents’ divorce, I had an English babysitter who lived the next street over from my family. When I or another of her charges was extra good she would reward us with a sugar cube. Once I slipped on some wet leaves, falling hard and scraping my knees, cracking the skin which allowed blood to ooze. “You didn’t even cry,” my babysitter said, and after cleaning my wounds, gave me a sugar cube for being brave. Since that time, I’ve had a thing for sugar cubes. Plus they make it so much easier to measure than when pouring sugar.
Eventually I slide into my seat. Sebastian and I revel in the nearness of one another eating toast, savoring our coffee and tea and reading. Such an ordinary, boring thing breakfast time is. But it’s our time.
Seb always finishes before me, unless he’s particularly glum. Today he isn’t. He leaves his used dishes and the magazine on the table so I can stare at them and pine for his presence. Jerk. I receive a tender kiss on the crown of my head while the warmth from his long hand seeps into my shoulder.
“You’re my favourite person,” he says.
Okay, I’m sorry I thought you were a jerk. Butt face.
“Later handsome,” I say out loud.
The notes of his smile leave a trail to the front door. I go back to my lovely breakfast.
After the last of my tea is consumed, a bookmark is placed where I stop and the book returned to the shelf. I pick up our plates.
Both Seb and I have that curious habit of leaving the last corner of toast (or sandwich) unconsumed. I toss the bits out the window over the sink for the birds and place the used dishes in the sink, and wipe down the counters and table.
As always, I dress – love my straight cut jeans and Chucks – tugging a thin, black long-sleeved t-shirt over my torso, grab my car key and head to my chosen “station” to work. Today it will be the library, the diner and the library again.
Thank goodness this job is temporary. I told Sebastian I took it to stave off boredom; not sure if he bought it knowing how tedious I find data entry. I can’t wait to see his face when I hand him the Scottish hunting sword circa 1820’s he so desperately wants. My dear sword-obsessed husband.
I am home by six, but still a little later than I like. I stick the container of soup I’d frozen into the microwave just as my dear Sebastian enters the house. He walks into the kitchen and, oh sigh, gives me that whiskey smile that goes down smooth and warms me from the inside out. My arms go around his lanky body, and I hold my ear to his chest, my blood pumping to the beat of Seb’s heart.
“Mm, good to hold you,” I say.
“Rough day?” He gently pulls me back so he can see my face.
“No. I just like you.”
I love when he smiles like that, the kind of smile where I can just make out the little boy shining through.
We eat. Snuggle on the couch watching The Dick Van Dyke Show. Seb goes to bed. Sleeps like a rock that one.
I remain sitting on the couch, feet on the coffee table, head resting on the back of the couch. In the silence, I can sense Sebastian asleep. I place my feet on the floor. Once in the kitchen, I move the far cabinet away from the wall. The panel is removed by sliding my fingertips under the seams, which is easier with nails, but one tore the other night, so they all had to be clipped because I hate one fingernail being so much shorter than the others. I trudge down the stairs taking back my earlier answer to Sebastian. It has been kind of a long day. Data entry is so dreary.
The familiar mustiness of the hidey-hole envelops me. The lighter sparks and ignites the wick, though the scented candle doesn’t do much; it is more for psychological effect. Pulling on the chain, the LED bulb livens the room.
Three is usually my bare minimum, but I only work for two hours. It is one of those moments I am desperate for the nearness of my husband.
Flick the boom box off. Yank the chain. Blow out the candle. Trudge up the stairs.
Crap – I had not replaced the panel prior to my descent. Eejit.
Put the kitchen back to normal.
Slide between cool sheets. The blaze of Seb’s body creeps over to my side.
On second thought, twin beds is a stupid idea.
Wait for it. Ah, the weight of Sebastian’s grasshopper leg covering both of mine. Oo, and an arm over my chest tonight. He drags me close. I sleep.
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