She could tell something was wrong with him. Like a slow downfall, it was beginning to build up. She undoes his tie and removes his shoes, the smell of gin leaks from his pores. She swears she can taste it on her lips as she kisses his forehead. Pulling the covers over both of them she falls asleep with tiny pools in her eyes.
She stretches her arm to pull him close, to hold him, but he’s gone. The empty spot turns into a void. She feels a pain in her chest, one that she can’t quite recall the name for, but it’s recognizable. One foot at a time she slides into her slippers. The smell of coffee leaks into the bedroom. Tip toeing her way to the door, she stares at him while he smokes. His body lacks any familiarity because of the peephole. She slowly opens the door trying to be as silent as possible. The door gives her away with a squeak. She hears him curse under his breath as she moves through the opening. She wants to love him, she wants to smother all his fears and doubts into her, have him surrender. But they won’t go down without a fight. Wrapping her arms around him, she feels his back straighten and the muscles in his neck become rigid. “I’m sorry- I can’t do this anymore, the pretending that everything is alright.” She whispers into his ear. She feels him swallow, his answer isn’t what she wanted, she wanted a chance, and he doesn’t want to give her one. The door closes behind her with a squeak. Her chest feels tight, she looks in her purse for her inhaler but it isn’t there. With a well-placed thumb and index finger she squeezes the bridge of her nose, she somehow lost the one thing that could save her. She drinks some water and lies back down.
The pedal at first is cold, quickly, though, almost friendly, it becomes warm under her foot. She wasn’t very good at sewing with this machine, but it took her mind off of things. A getaway she didn’t know she needed. The curtains she’s trying to construct starts to take shape. She feels the cloth, the rattle, the push and pull of the machine. It calms her. Back and forth she lays the stitch where it needs to be. He rubs her shoulder as she removes the music from her ear. “Do you have a second?” he asks, she lets a loose pin push into her thumb, she doesn’t know why but she likes it. “In about a minute, I am on a good stride.” She said giving him a fake smile. The pin gets closer and closer to breaking the skin. He removes his hand from her shoulder and she removes hers from the pin. Placing the earbud back into her, the pedal feels cold again as her barefoot slides over it. A slight push and the machine is alive.
The song fades out as she folds the finished curtain. A smile creeps in and she feels happy about this small accomplishment. Before the next song starts she hears a whimper from the other room, she pulls the headphones from her ears and listens. The whimper returns and she’s moving to the source. His head tosses around in an effort to escape the nightmare. She shakes his shoulders, this does not wake him; she fetches a glass of cold water. Again she shakes him. He wakes with a gasp, then another, and another. She uses what muscles she can to have him sit up. Water spills on the floor as she tries to hand him the glass. He drinks and gasps once more, but this time more controlled. “Are you okay?” she asks as she brushes the bangs from his sweat covered forehead. “Yes, now I am.” He said with a slight sigh. “You want to talk about it?” She asks as he pulls his legs closer to himself and she sits down. A moment passes that neither of them could get back. “Well?” she asks. “Just a bad dream, I was drowning.” He said trying hard not to make eye contact. She studies him for an another moment then speaks “I think that means you’re being overwhelmed, I can tell something is bothering you, and has been for a while, I can’t say I wouldn’t be a little hurt if you don’t want to talk about it, but if you give me a try I can be a pretty good listener.” She finishes by placing her hand on his knee. She watches him fight with the words as if everything in him was either going to come out or be buried forever. The chance she wanted lies in front of her. She pulls herself close and smothers him with her love. The floodgate breaks and his person rushes out. She didn’t want to cry, she did her best to hide the tears. Her chest gets tight, she fights through it. She didn’t want to interrupt him, not now, not like this. She swallows hard.
She struggles with the air, she wants it inside her, to give her life but the doors are closed and locked. Eyes shut tight she wants to believe in miracles, she can’t move, every part of her ignores the commands to move. “If I could just touch him…” her thoughts become foggy and tortuous. She feels a hand grasp hers. With some effort her eyes open again, a hazy version of him sits over her. The inhaler is warm to her lips. She feels the key rush through her, unlocking the doors. She takes the air, she grabs as much as she could. The bed moves, noise fills the room. The air feels good inside her, her lungs welcome it like a long lost friend. There’s a shout, he is whisked away from her. The warm plastic returns to her lips. The switches begin to flip and she can feel herself return, return to the living, to be alive.