She was awake too, two bodies over. We had a rhythm going. I’d breathe in, and she’d sigh.
The floor was cold, but with four of us under the comforter I began to sweat.
The comforter was really soft. I remember that. It’s one of those details that really takes me back there. You know how you can taste orange a little bit when you think about them? I can feel that comforter. It had down in it, and you could wrap it around and put your head on it like a pillow, which was helpful since we didn’t have pillows.
No idea why. Lived there two months, and not once ran to the department store to buy a pillow. Or Target. Wal-Mart even. I always thought of it come bedtime. I’d think to myself I should have stopped while I was out, or even while I had been there taking back a shirt we’d stolen. Helpful round Christmas time, lots of returns sans receipt. In-store credit only, but it was always easier to steal things we didn’t want than things we did.
Never stole a pillow.
The week after I left, I ran into her at Tom’s. It wasn’t where we first met, but she sat down and after we talked for awhile, she said the floor was colder with me gone.
I told her it wasn’t the floor that was cold.
Man, I thought that was brilliant. The kind of line you save up, waiting for an opening to present itself. That’d show her I was over her, that I was gone.
She had a really sad smile sometimes, when she didn’t know anybody was looking. I think all girls have that smile, actually, but hers was the open beta.
She didn’t do the sad smile.
She kept on talking.
Later, in my bed, on my mattress, after two different bars, a dance club I had no interest in going to, and finally Tom’s again, for an influx of coffee, black, proving that neither of us would ever be sommeliers, we had no rhythm.
The beat was broken. I breathed in, and she started just after me. Her sigh interrupted my sharp nasal intake. Did we just need someone in between to slow down the signals?
I turned and hugged my new pillow as I drifted off to sleep.