The day skitters past her, shadowy and elusive. She reaches for it, but it slips and wriggles like salmon fighting upstream, always upstream of her, just out of reach. The shadows lengthen, the sky greying as the fireflies punch through the gloom with their tiny lanterns winking and winking. His face lights up in the flash of a match behind cupped hands, and the scent of smoke snakes across the shadows that lie between them, secretive like the way he used to talk to her back when they shared a bed, tangled up their limbs and lives. He was always a sharp breeze away from closing off, always one whisper away from telling her he loved her, and she imagined some nights after they'd finished having sex that he'd grabbed her hair in his fists and pulled her face to his and kissed her open mouth roughly instead of pushing her face and open mouth down, always open mouthed and sucking further down.
I woke up at dawn this morning. I tried to stay curled up under the covers, convinced that I would eventually fall back to sleep if I laid still and closed my eyes, but as is becoming more and more common, it didn't work. It was another late night followed by an early morning, and I feel like part of me has been rubbed raw by sandpaper or the rough concrete on the bottom of a pool. Today I was unproductive, sleepy and often incoherent. The highlight of my day was when the kiddos went out to pick black raspberries in the yard. I gave them a plastic bucket, and they tried to keep from eating them all before they even made it to the bucket. In the end, they had a heap of maybe two cups of berries or so. I sprinkled on sugar and added a splash of milk, and they were so happy. It's a simple summer ritual, one of the things I'll miss about living on a farm. Now it is almost dusk. The light's just starting to fade. I am sleepy, lightheaded and warm. I want nothing more than a long sleep in an air conditioned room, a glass of cold milk and either some soothing music or the sound of rain. A couple of months ago, I bought several tracks of nothing but the sound of water. One was the sound of rain falling. One was a babbling brook. Another was the sound of an underwater stream. Each track was close to an hour long. I put them in a playlist I call my rain playlist, and sometimes I fall asleep listening to them. It's this hushing sound, soothing, similar to white noise or the whir of a fan in how it calms me down and makes my thoughts slow and my body relax. Now it is dusk. The fireflies are starting to come out. They're flickering across the fields and in the treetops. I love fireflies. I love the way they make the balmy summer evenings seem magical. I love the way they remind me of my childhood, of evenings spent chasing them, catching them in between cupped palms and then setting them free and watching them fly away. Fireflies remind me of cold watermelon and fireworks. They remind me of lying on a quilt in my grandma's front yard, as my aunt and uncle set off fireworks and, for just a little while, life seemed okay, my family seemed okay and I felt like, if only for an evening, I actually fit in. Now, every year, my neighbors set off fireworks, and we walk across the field and over by the barn so we can see better. I plan on getting the kiddos some sparklers if the grass isn't too dry and I think they can keep from burning the ends of their fingers as the sparks fly. It's dusk. I'm sleepy. Once again, I'm going to bed alone. I don't mind this much. I actually prefer it. I get to sleep on one side of the bed for part of the night and the other side for the rest of it. I am selfish with the covers. I hoard the pillows. I am always switching to the cool side of the bed. Sometimes I remind myself that I won't always be this alone nor this lonely. Someday things will be different. Someday. But for now? Enough writing. I worry if I write much more, I'll expose parts of myself that I want kept secret, hidden rooms that I deny exist within me.