By Laura Goodman
Two days since the evacuation scramble ahead of Katrina, a day since the drowning of their city and the certain knowledge of losing everything, a few hours since finally falling asleep, she awakens, dragging the dream with her. Sheep, shorn to a bony nakedness, shivering, bleating. She can’t tell if she’s awake or still in the dream, hearing the noise or not.
More towards awake, she knows there is something there beside her, but the darkness around her is opaque and she can make out only the faint, backlit shadows of tree branches rubbing against the window screen. Need pulses through her, but she is afraid to reach out.. Can she touch what’s there? Should she? Eyes closed in case, after all, it is the sheep of bones and little skin. She extends a tentative finger. Sheep? Or him? Suspended there, a whisper. “Mi?”
It moves, makes a small noise. Air in.
If it is the bone-sheep, she tells herself, she’ll dream scream and wake.
“I’m here, baby.” It is his voice, buffered, but his real voice.
It’s him. “Milo.” No sheep. She is here in the room, in this bed, with him, awake. “I…”
She touches him, his shoulder, now with her whole hand. She accepts the real of him, lets it flow up her arm and into the rest of her.
The sounds and movement of his breathing pull her body towards him. And when he rolls over and towards her, she allows it, wants it, even. Has never wanted anything more. Her hand finds the familiar woolliness of his chest. Not shorn, not sheep. She wants him. She welcomes the palm of his hand on her cheek as it traces her neck down to her shoulder, to the small of her back. She welcomes the fuller warmth of his body as it presses, gently, into hers, her breasts, the bones of her hips. She understands he is merging them back into a single, safe being. Safe is what she wants.
Their lovemaking is one version of them, one version of what they always do. Or did, before. And it persuades her, for those few minutes here in the night dark, that there can be things still true and good in waking life.