(untitled prose piece)

Today you have been with me. I have seen your face, heard your voice, felt your touch. Yes, though you are far, in body and in spirit, today you have been with me.

When I woke this morning, I didn’t really wake. I lay in bed in that precarious state of half-sleep, and my mind drifted. My mind drifted, and it found you. You, lying next to me. You, with your arm around my waist. You, breathing on my neck. When I woke this morning, I was not alone. You were there with me.

I moaned, knowing it couldn’t be true. A cruel trick, torture, that’s what really was. You were asleep in your own bed, warm underneath your own blankets. Meanwhile I shivered from the cold of your absence. You would not have been there, with me; I would not have had that luck, that joy, that gift. I knew, I forced myself to know, and I turned to break the reverie, but suddenly! — Your fingers traced my spine, dancing all the way from the small of my back to the nape of my neck. I moaned in amazement, because you were there with me.

I thought you would disappear as the day went on, fade away like a shade, like a phantom from another world, like the ephemeral spirit that you are. And you did, for a while, and I thought I was safe. But now here it is, noon on a snowy Thursday, and I’m sitting by the window, waiting for things to start, and suddenly here you are, shadowing me, silent and invisible and here. I can still feel your fingers on my back, hovering over my skin, waiting for things to start. It’s as if they never left — as if you never left — as if we were still in my bed wrapped in the warmth of each other.

But that is not the case, that is not reality. So I write ‘ai’ on the palm of my hand, and ball it into a fist, to keep you close, to carry you with me.