But I miss you most of all, my darling When autumn leaves start to fall
He woke to a sense of more. As if he was more awake then he had ever been. The fan spinning overhead stirred more air than it had ever stirred before, the clock sitting on his nightstand ticked more tocks than it had ever ticked before, his nose needed blowing more than it had ever needed it before and his teeth ground together with more irritation than he had ever felt before. His first thought was I need a drink. And he realized that he wanted one more than he had ever wanted anything before.
He tried to move but his body wasn’t taking messages. He was laid out in a flat line down the center of the bed with his hands fisted on either side of him at his hips. His mouth hurt- his lips and teeth and tongue…swollen. But that was all he could feel.
Angel lay draped across his chest. He knew that because the fan was blowing little wisps of her hair across his face that tickled the inside of his nose. Also, she seemed to be breathing all of the air in the room and leaving none for him. And, she was pinching his nerves in that way that left his limbs numb and tingly. It was unpleasant.
Impatiently, unaccountably angry, he shoved her.
In the half- light coming from his bedroom closet she stirred sensuously and pulled away. Leaning up she smiled sleepily down on him and said, “I’m awake. I’m awake.”
He recalled his dream and the way she had looked down on him and it came back more vividly than he had ever recalled a dream before. More like a memory, with tangible smells and the feeling of hands leaving imprints on his skin as he was lifted.
He panicked. Feeling held down and trapped, he meant to lash out at her, could actually feel the yell crawling up his throat. But then-she rubbed her drowsy eyes-her fist balled up like a child’s- smiled- like the first time they had met. And just like that he breathed her name on a sigh, “Angel” and paused his breath at her beauty.
Her features were tiny, delicate and yet her brown eyes were large. When she was standing she seemed to be all arms and legs and long, shiny curls but there was lushness to her. If he was a poet he would say that she reminded him of a spring bulb resisting the harsh March winds determined to peep her noddy head out and bloom in the sun. Her innocence, the scent of which could drive him mad, was defiance against the hell they lived in now. And he never doubted that she could do it-resist nature to get her way-she may be named Angel but she had the devil’s own stubborn streak.
He was sorry he thought it but couldn’t help but wonder was she really so innocent anymore?
“Why are you listening to this morbid song?” she frowned playfully at him. He didn’t stop her when she reached across the mattress and shut Mile’s horn off. She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head to help clear it. He pretended not to notice how runny her nose was. But when she lifted her blue veined arm and combed her fingers through his hair in rough-play pulling at the strands he jerked away. ”Cut it out.”
She pouted. “What’s wrong with you?” Blaize stared at her mouth as she formed the words. Her lips without his kisses weren’t so pink or lush now. “You look pale,” he said.
She started, tried to recover by reaching for a cigarette, “Why can’t you be nice to me, Blaize? Why do you have to hurt me when you know how much I’ve been through?”
He didn’t move. It had become their routine. Funny how you could reach out to take a girl’s hand, pull her fingers to your mouth to suckle their delectable sweetness and somehow change everything. Maybe that was the much he was feeling- too much, too soon, too late, too many, whatever. Funny how one innocent question could blow-out your entire life.
What’s wrong with your fingernails?
He’d laughed. Now when he thought about it he couldn’t believe he’d laughed.
What’s wrong with your fingernails?
She’d looked at him like he’d stabbed her. Like it was that time again when she’d lost the baby and she was telling him how it had been for her, in the girl’s bathroom at school, in the stall, all that blood. He’d felt the guilt of what he’d done to her like one of those anvils in a cartoon landing on his head.
She stared at his blank face for a heartbeat and then laughed out a cloud of cigarette smoke. “Fine, whatever, let’s get dressed. I don’t want to be late.”
It wasn’t until she had scrambled across his body and flopped off the bed that he felt the first tingles of awareness return-the first fresh wave of air flow over him.