The cold realities have started seeping in and scare me more than the nightmares ever did. I see her now, looking sometimes at the mask hung in the closet and wondering if she didn’t like me better that way. ‘Do you have to be sad?’ Syllables soft and sharp. ‘Can’t you just… can’t you be happy?’ I tell her it’s not about joy or despair but honesty measured empirically, I won’t hide anymore. We go to sleep with the monster under the bed half discussed and wake in fragmentation. I tell her I’m trying and she nods, ‘I know.’
I wake into her as the drowning man, gasping and lost. She strokes my hair as the seawater nightmare drains from my lungs and says, ‘Hush.’ Have I been sleeping? ‘Sort of,’ she says, ‘in a way we both have.’ My skin seems aerated, void of tension, and I worry her arms wont be enough to tether me. ‘Don’t worry,’ she says, as though my thoughts were a stream running over opal pebbles and passing from her lips, ‘we have each other now and that’s all there is.’ I worried I might never wake, I say, opening my eyes.