I am nearly asleep but I don’t hang up. Not tonight. Not this close to somewhere infinitely more peaceful than where we live in the daylight. It’s nice to be in this drifting together.
My voice is breathy, sleepy. I’m still here. I don’t say it. Just think it. Say it. Think it. Who knows the difference right now as the stars pulse and disappear outside my opened window.
He says my name like a whisper. A song. I laugh suddenly, an echo down the phone that reverberates, shakes my body awake.
You should go, I say. It’s late. We should be sleeping.
Somewhere in the world it’s morning, Joe counters. It’s morning here too, in fact. If you think about it.
And I know we’re both checking our clocks as he says this. 2am. Passing through the midnight hours together. Roaming toward dawn like ghosts. It’s easier when we see the night through like this. Wide-awake when everybody else is dreaming. I’m thinking this, thinking riddles and half-worn philosophies as I slide between these hours of light and dark with Joe pressed up against my ear, yet so very far away.
You should go, I repeat. It’s late. Hang up
There is silence, and then a question. Softly.
Are you in bed?
Yes, my hand searches for the cool of my pillow. Aren’t you?
No. Joe sounds weary now, sorry for himself. I’m at my desk. Sitting here in my suit. I haven’t even gone upstairs to change.
I’m teasing him. But I feel it. A sudden twitch of nerves at the thought of him sitting there in his white shirt, sleeves rolled, pants still buckled. I can see how the phone would be hooked awkwardly against his ear, see how his neck would arch toward the receiver. A sand-plane of skin I had not considered. Now, with my eyes closed, this is all I can see.
You should get rid of the suit, Joe. Get comfortable.
I mean it to sound a joke, but it’s that breathy, sleepy voice again. Making it sound like something more. Accidentally. I’ll always think – after – that it was accidental. The pause, and then the way he says – Tell me what you are wearing?
And suddenly it isn’t light anymore, this air between us.
I’m – my feet push up against clinging sheets. I’m … not wearing anything.
A crack down the phone. Electricity. I can hear the shift, even in the silence that follows.
And then this.
Lucy. Tell me what you see.
I … I stumble against the words. How are we here? Here we are. Seeing the line, only as we step to cross it.
Tell me what you see.
And I’m looking at my body now, kicking off the sheets. Wanting to do this. Suddenly. Wanting to wake up after years of sleeping.
I’m here, Joe. I’m … tell me what you want to know?
to be continued …