Caleb and you spend long afternoons in your bedroom waiting for spring. He sleeps with his strong arm thrown over you and you yourself never sleep but steady your breathing enough to convince him that you do.
Without knowing why, you like this foolery, this deception. It makes you happy.
You try to keep this happiness secret, but sometimes it refuses to be contained. Sometimes your lips pull back across your teeth in a wide grin and, somehow sensing this, he goes up on one elbow and laughs.
“What’s going on over there?” he wants to know.
You shake your head, put his finger in your mouth, bury your face in the pillow.
If he knows you’re not asleep, he spiders his fingers across your shoulders, along your sides, pats your bum, tiny-kisses the top of your head. You wouldn’t have thought that a man who fucks like a bull would have this gentle side to him and it surprises you.
The first time you almost said, “You don’t have to do that.”
But luckily you caught yourself in time.
And now he does have to do that.
Now you’d miss it if he didn’t.
He never falls into a solid sleep until your Pandora station decides that you are no longer listening, that it’s playing to an empty room, and turns itself off. You never know how long this takes. An hour maybe? Forty-five minutes?
It’s in the eventual silence that his breathing becomes truly heavy, almost labored. That his body shudders in its final surrender, that the arm slung over you triples in weight.
You like these moments. You like feeling the sweat form between his belly and your lower back.
As your oft-caged mind begins to travel, you think about the guy at the grocery store whose lower arms are tattooed black. Imagine yourself indicating them and saying to him, “When do you think we’ll know each other well enough for you to tell me about that?” And realize that now it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to say that the next time you see him.
You think about your sister, who is always dying. You think about that time the two of you were stuck at the airport and when you came out of the bathroom she was reading your diary, wide-eyed. You freaked out and she claimed she was only pretending to read it, to be funny. So the next time she went to the bathroom, you did the same thing to her. Only when you did it she went completely berserk, yanking the diary out of your hands and hitting you over the top of the head with it. Which was embarrassing.
But also funny.
Her diary had a title page. Duchess of Debauchery. You teased her about this.
“I’m writing a book,” she told you.
“I’m sure,” you told her back.
Caleb grunts in his sleep.
You think about him. Wonder if he’s sad. Lonely. Wonder if his heart is broken, and if you’re helping or making it worse.
You think about old lovers and almost start to miss them. But then you imagine one of them coming to your door right now. He wants his television back. That’s not your imagination. He really does. But you imagine answering the door butt-naked and screaming your head off at him. With Caleb still in the bedroom.
Caleb would get turned on by that. Without knowing him very well, you know this to be true. He’s big on unpredictability. And for a second you almost consider scheduling it. But then you realize that would be crazy.
Crazy is a word that has been regularly employed when describing you, and you used to buy into that. But these days you feel that it’s not really very accurate.
Still, for a long, painful moment, you genuinely wonder how anyone actually keeps from going insane.
By now the sweat is dripping down between your bodies.
You reach out an arm and take a slice of mango from a bowl on your nightstand. Roll over onto your back and slide it delicately between Caleb’s ridiculously gorgeous lips.
If there’s one thing you’re going to miss about Caleb, it’s going to be those lips. You can already imagine it being the kind of thing that’s going to be hard to get over, when the time for getting over comes.
Considering this, you take his lower lip between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze it appreciatively.
He’ll laugh at anything. Your bull-man. Pounding away your sadness, your crazy.
“Another mango,” he says.
“You’re demanding,” you say back, obediently stretching your arm around for another one.
You slide a second mango into his mouth, use it as an excuse to give his lip another tug.
He takes your hand by the wrist, turns his eyes towards you.
Guides your hand down his torso, presses those lips against yours.