I woke this morning reaching for you. I was confused that you weren’t there. I could have sworn I heard you breathing. I must’ve been seeing spots, because I thought I saw the freckles of your nose. It troubled me that you weren’t lying in the bed beside me.
I rolled over and snuggled tighter under the covers. I knew you’d come back. It must’ve been the kids. Perhaps it was time to take them to school and I had slept in. You’d be back soon so I dozed back off to the horrible dreams of the times before we met.
I’d thought I was happy then. I grew roses and baked cupcakes. I tried growing a colony of fungus and bacteria, known as “sourdough.” I worked and scraped by. Nothing was easy, but everything was worth it. Everything was for me.
Oh, how simple things were and how happy I thought I could be. But now, with you by my side, I can hardly imagine that I was happy then. Was that happiness all a lie? Was it delusion or illusion? Or maybe I was happy then. But you’ve been gone a few moments and I lay here in bed wondering at the emptiness I feel inside.
I roll over and I realize that you weren’t here when I went to sleep. I smell the laundry detergent and fabric softener on a pillow that has never held your tangled locks. I cannot smell the sweetness of the sweat that glazes your body as you clench your teeth together in an attempt to remain silent. You were never here. You’ve never been here.
And so I wake to the shallow happiness of the times before we met. How was this good enough last night? How have I lost it all? How have a I lost you when I’ve never even had a chance at having you? Having never had you, how do I know exactly what it feels like to lose you?
I know the place on my neck that fits your hand. I know the place on your back that fits mine. I know the color of the sunshine flooding through your hair and the sound of your laughter.
It is only now that I wish I didn’t.