We still hold hands in bed sometimes, but we stopped holding each other months ago. I only sleep lightly in that bed. I'm scared I'll cross over the center line by accident, my sleeping self seizing the closeness my waking self knows I can't have. That I promised to give up.
We bought this bed together when we moved here. The perfect length for her tall legs, the perfect firmness for my aching back, the perfect width for two people, three people, even four people. We wore a dent down in a middle from our gasping nights. Now, we sleep on each side. The middle gathers crumbs, blankets, charging cables, and -- on occasion -- clasped palms. In the place I slept deeply with my dearest lover, I've become used to waking in malaise, in longing, and in regret.
So it was strange, on the ride home from the barn, to feel good. I had slept well for the first time this year. And I was leaving that first deep and painless sleep deep out of... a sense of obligation? fear? embarrassment? The wind was crisp and my body was warm, the skeleton of what could've been a deep contentment. Why was I going home?
I tightened my grip on the clutch. I have to be good. I want to be good.
She had already headed up to bed when I got home. Somehow, that stung; shouldn't she be worried? I came home for her...! I tried to shake the thoughts loose. She's her own person, and I'm my own... person. She was working really hard not to worry about me so much. I couldn't give into the codependency. I mustn't be too much. Looks like she got new shoes and a jacket, I guess. Not really her style. I hung up the farmer's coat.
In the bathroom, I threw down my clothes right where I'd had my... episode last night. I'd text the doctor's office before bed, for sure. I turned on the water, turned back to the mirror, then:
I saw a woman glowing, thick, and gorgeous. She flowed in every direction. Her sagging arms flapped their heft under each bicep. Her cheeks glowed like coals over her chins. Her wide, waddling stance bore the huge weight of her breasts and belly in perfect, delicate balance. Those breasts rose and fell like waves with each breath, and at their ends: sand-dollar areolae with inch-long nipples. Each dappled, voluminous thigh seemed to bloom outwards from her cunt, like waves of pleasure had sprouted them there. She stood teetering on tiny ankles, thickened and drooping, but still so small -- like they could topple or snap at any moment. A thin shroud of softness coated each finger, each toe. No part of her was not marked by fat; it exuded from her triumphantly in soft curtains of flesh. When she moved, the whole of her shook; waves traveled up and down her, ripples on the calmest, warmest lake in summer. I admired especially her belly, and the seam where a second one was-- wait.... a second? belly? I never had, when did I get this...
The woman in the mirror was me. I couldn't believe it. My self image scrambled to right itself. Surely, I had crossed some threshold between being fat and being... this fat. I mean, I don't... I'm, very beautiful... b-but this couldn't have just happened in the last few days, right? I've dissociated through the last few months, there was no way this was new. I just wasn't paying enough attention. I needed to do better. If I grew this body, I did... pretty, damn good, oh my, look at... S-something's wrong. I'm texting the clinic right now (i texted the clinic right then) hen I'll just shower and go to bed and probably cry but that's fine because i will be useful tomorrow (...my thoughts raced while I bathed...) and I will do what I said I'd do (...I dried myself furtively...) and I'll respect everyone's boundaries (...I threw on the pajamas I'd left in the living room...) and I'll advocate for my needs reasonably (...I ascended the stairs, until...) and nobody will be angry at me (...i heard, laughter...) and nobody will leave me...
At the top of the stairs a memory floated up to me -- 3, maybe 4 years old, awoken by some night terror. Desperate for comfort. Standing outside my parents' door, closed, afraid to open it, afraid to be alone, afraid to disturb and be scolded,just afraid. I called out for them, but ssh! quietly, not too loud, it wasn't right to make noise, I had to be quiet, but I cried out still, half-audible to any listener, beginning to sob, determined to be good, I stood at the top of the stairs calling out for them with no response.
Now, through the closed bedroom door, I could hear two people laughing and moaning. I could hear love being made in our bed. This wasn't supposed to happen. She said one night only, right? She's never done anything like this, she was always so thoughtful, and... hadn't I been good?
If it won't make you love me, what's the point of being good?
I opened my mouth to call out and drew one chubby hand across my face, cheeks hot and wide eyes streaming tears . Did she forget about me? Was she so ready to replace me? Sticky mucus ran down my nose onto my fingers and i finally turned my face from the door and crept down the stairs because i was desperate not to be seen in my anger and terror and i couldn't take this, this, this betrayal, i had to get out I needed to not be here even if i had nowhere to go as i threw on the farmer's coat sped past her lover's shoes and when i'd closed the door and saw the milk bottles I'd left in my bike's basket i rode out into the night.