The Sleeper

andres sleeping handsHe shifts, gripping the covers and pulling them around him in spite of the sticky heat of the room. He stretches, and with an angelic yawn he reaches out one hand. Eyes still closed but perhaps half-awake, letting out small sleep-moans of displeasure, his hand searches the bedspread beside him; reaching in that vague and plaintive way that infants are so apt to do. I know I shouldn’t, that I have important things to do with my morning, but for a moment nothing seems more important than my darling’s grasping hand and pouting lips as he searches for what’s missing in his bed.

I lay down on the white sheet and scoot closer to him until his hand pats my leg and he registers my presence. He sighs contently as I kiss him on the cheek and let my fingertips idly graze his shoulder in that tickling way he loves. He reaches his hands above his head and lets them lie there, the universal sign for relaxation, and he is still. I watch him as his chest rises and falls in a slow, rhythmic tempo, and it seems he’s back in that sleep-void, or perhaps back in his dreams, or perhaps somewhere even better. His face is so relaxed, his body curled into itself much like that position we occupy for so long before we’re ever introduced to this beautiful, terrible world. I want to stay here next to him forever–to shield him with my body, absorb any doubts and fears and insecurities through my loving touch, to protect him.

I know eventually I have to inch my way out of the bed, go back to the pressing matters of writing before the day gets too bright and too loud and too distracting for me to create. But for now, I lay there holding my sleeper; my serious man, his mind much older than his skin, who spends countless nights battling death and loneliness and the limitations of humanity’s meager existence in his ever-churning head. My future lawyer, my future district attorney, my future judge. My other half, who I know would carry the whole world on his shoulders if he thought it would lighten my burden in the slightest. But for now, his brow isn’t furrowed and his shoulders aren’t tense, and he rests.

Even the most somber of men can become a child again when he is asleep.

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