Before sleep

In blogopera on May 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm

‘I do not read,’ she said, ‘for the same reason I do not eavesdrop.’

He let his book fall, spine-up, against his chest.

‘Never?’ he asked. ‘You never eavesdrop?’

She shook her head, although on account of the pillow it was more of a rocking from side to side than it was a shaking.

How do you stop yourself? How do you make sure other people’s words don’t drift into your thoughts? Are you never curious, never attracted, never repulsed by the people you see as you wander through your day?

He wondered these things, but he was wary of learning too much more about her. If he took in too much more of her mind or the way she thought, then scratch of her nails as she combed through his hair might no longer be enough.

‘You wouldn’t either,’ she said. ‘Not if you’d met my daughter.’

He had got better at keeping his breaths regular in response to such pieces of news. He had learned not to say, You joined the army, you speak Greek, you sewed your own wedding dress.

But even so, a daughter?

‘It’s set for five,’ she said, then put her phone by the side of her bed. ‘I’ll be gone six. I’ll let you know about dinner, but I don’t think I’ll be back.’

He held his breaths steady, waiting for her to peel the book from his chest.

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