She remembers the first night he slept out of their bedroom. The evening drew in with black rain and dark windows, and she left the wine glasses sitting in the sink. On the way upstairs she hesitated by the door of the study, her toes licking the yellow light peeping from under the door. She climbed under the cool sheets, and listened to the night. The dog sniffing around the bedrooms, the foxes screaming in the garden, and then, finally, his quiet coughing on the stairs, the rustle of his skin against the barely slept in linen. She tried to imagine the soft folds of duvet before his closing eyes, the peacefulness of the silence without her rigid, alive body beside him. She listened for the steadiness of his breathing, descending slowly into soft, purry snores. From here, he sounds like a small puppy, or a baby with a cold, the little nasal gurgling of sleep. It is hard to think of his large, cold presence as being intimidating when she thinks of all the thousands of feathers in pillows and duvets tucked around him. She almost thinks it could work again, as she stares at the reflection of the automatically changing traffic lights against her window.
He rolls in his sleep, a mass of skin and life turning away from her.
The hallway expanded
A never-ending length of creamy-lit carpet,
A map of tea-stains, dog sick, and children’s crushed crayons and stubby wet felt tip pens,
The horrible cartography of her life,
Stretched out between them.
Keeping them apart.
She lies down in his bed and wonders if on that night he had woken and missed her,
or even felt colder without her body heat
or even woke and was angry with her.
But he has always been a heavy sleeper.
Her stomach lurches when the dog pads in, his nails scratching on the laminate floor (they need a cut). She groans with the jolting internal reflux,
relief and disappointment are making her sick.
The dog has laid his warm back against her stomach and drifted off.
There is the wheeze of his lungs, and the hot,
Breath from his nose tickling her knuckles.
Moistening her hand.
She likes that he is called
A dog with pathetic fallacy for
The word for what she feels in this hot, endless morning.
Her eyes are closed,
Red skin beats inside her eyelids.
The world will have to come back later,
She is not ready for it right now,
She is not ready.
Pungent doggy breath
Cold male sweat
And the sweet smell of cheap underwear.
Peace and Quiet.
She cannot sleep.