The key to a good night’s sleep was a cold room and a lot of blankets.
It was 61 degrees inside and there were four on his bed at the moment, but none of them were in the right spots, yet.
He slept on the right side of the bed, but it was important that most of the blankets were towards the left. He hated when the blankets were too far to the right and were falling off the bed, which is how he always found them in the morning.
He wanted the blankets more towards the left side of the bed because he liked to move his feet into the empty groove that now occupied the empty side of the mattress.
She was gone. He was glad about that. And that made him miss her all the more.
For one thing she was a great adversary. Everything that came out of her mouth was brash, vile, juvenile, and wrong.
She fucked like an adversary, too.
He never understood why people made love with those they respected and admired. Adversaries will try to tear your cock in half while it’s inside them and slap you so hard the room would spin. The only way to correct your orientation is to grab onto them so tightly—having your nails break into their skin, causing them to shriek— and smack you so hard that the room would spin again. And this goes round and round like a carousel until you both fall back exhausted into the grooves in the mattress he missed so much.
The problem with an adversary who fucks like an Amazon warrior is that, eventually, he would try to tenderly caress her cheeks, started asking her to dinner, and would say ridiculous things like, “yes, I agree.”
And then she had to go.
Misery loves company, he realized. Well, he wasn’t the first to really realize that. Someone thousands of years ago whose rock pile, hale bay, or goose quill bed was also missing its second occupant had realized that.
What he did realize was that love loves misery. Unfortunately that makes for an even worse t-shirt.
He had attempted to explain that to her, but, as always, she missed the point. All she heard was that she was making his life miserable. Not the last part where he said it was good in its own sort of way.
Maybe, he thought, if I just move the second blanket over a little further everything else will fall into line.
That plan never worked, and tonight was no exception. The blankets were now where he wanted, but in a surprise twist, the sheet had also over corrected. His exposed shoulder was now freezing cold as he continued to toss and turn.
Maybe the problem was he hadn’t changed the sheets, yet. Her odor clung to her side. By this point it had probably soaked through the fitted sheet and the box spring.
He only had the one bottle of men’s 2-in-1 soap and shampoo in the shower whose title was inauspiciously just “Irish”, and yet, she always smelled of lilac and rainwater.
Her scent was intoxicating. It made him want to vomit.
Maybe that’s the problem, he thought, he only had three pillows on his bed. To sleep he required two pillows; one in it’s traditional position under his head, and the other placed squarely over his eyes. He liked the added pressure the pillow provided. Plus, it added an extra level of protection against the neon falafel store sign.
When she was there, and after a good roll in the hay, he could have slept anywhere—including that rock pile. That’s why he had always acquiesced to her demand for the second pillow.
Just two nights ago, he had found a stray hair still stuck to that pillow. Women’s hair is like the Viet Cong; they’re everywhere and can pop-up at any time.
He should have been sleeping fine. He was wearing underwear. He had told her on their first night together that he slept naked. He told her that to subtly—actually the opposite of subtly—convince her to sleep with him after she had rebuked his advances earlier. Strangely that ploy had worked and he had always slept naked with her since.
If he was alone and tried to sleep naked this would subtly—actually the opposite of subtly—convince him that it was time to take care of it himself. Snug boxer-briefs were the only thing to keep his man parts from swinging wildly around, while at the same time allowing the coolness of the bed to envelop him.
But now the boxer-briefs felt restrictive and the thought of manual labor at this hour was an unacceptable proposition. He needed a different—less strenuous—activity. Unfortunately that bitch had taken all of his books.
Well, she hadn’t quite taken them. He had forced her take them in a vain attempt to seem more intellectual than he seemed. She didn’t even want the books, though. Her tastes were significantly different. She read trash. Girly, romantic, pulpy stuff that sickened him to his core. She needed to read more intellectual books. Perhaps, he had thought, she’ll think I’m sort of scholarly professor once she reads them.
He had wanted to cultivate that image. He certainly was no athlete and no one would ever confuse him for a Brawny Man. So, you make do with what you have.
In truth all the books on his nightstand were either half read or never opened. He had always promised himself he would finish them. But, between sex and minesweeper, reading was always taking a back seat. Besides, she should read them. She should be as cultured as he wasn’t.
He wished he had a book right now that he didn’t want to read. Something long and tedious that made the nights stretch out for eternity. It was only while reading a book he hated that he stopped noticing when the first blanket began to fall onto the floor.
Or when she had used him like a rodeo horse and he tried to keep her on for over 9 seconds.
The fan hummed in the corner. Oscillating left and right, which meant that every three seconds his toes got a little bit colder. He liked counting the seconds from under the blankets, plus he needed the low humming sound to drown out all his thoughts.
She hated the fan. What’s the point of living downtown, she had asked, if you don’t like the downtown noise?
So he had made due listening to drunken revelers laughing wildly, cabs honking madly at those drunks, and to the faint, soothing, guttural snoring she swore she didn’t do.
He loathed those noises now; to the point where being that drunken reveler had lost its appeal.
But now he was almost at a tipping point. With all his shifting and moving, the friction had caused his side of the mattress to heat up considerably. The blankets themselves—just like everything else in his life—were turning against him and sealing in heat. He tried to sleep on left side but that never worked so he thrashed some more.
Eventually a localized green house effect took control— his side of the bed was getting hotter and hotter.
Before he had only slept on his left sign in an attempt at spooning. Finally, something they both could agree on: spooning is horrible and should not be attempted.
Inevitably one, if not both, of his arms would fall asleep and cause him to squirm uncomfortably. This then would set off a chain reaction where she would get annoyed as shit and tell him to just chill the fuck out.
But, of course, she didn’t understand. Being the big spoon meant pressing in really close. Pressing in so close even when they are at their sweatiest and hottest. When their pheromones and body temperature are at their highest; there is nothing more intimate.
Sex isn’t intimate. It’s primal; animalistic. Heck, animals do it. No male when he’s finished should want to stay and stroke a woman’s hair or cup a breast while they try to synchronize their breathing. Spooning takes dedication and means commitment. Disgusting.
Oh, to be a fish, and spread his seed over some egg sacs and fuck off.
And then get eaten by a shark.
She had rudely once offered to be big spoon. She was always trying to make him feel emasculated. Always attempting to pick up the check or offering to pick him up in her car.
He didn’t need her help. And he was glad she was no longer here to offer it to him.
But, because she was gone, in a last-ditch attempt to sleep, he scooted the three inches across the double mattress and rolled gently into the groove that used to be empty. In a miraculous display of generosity the blankets had followed him across and were laid out so none were falling off the bed.
Ever since she left he had avoided this side of the bed. He hadn’t wanted to move over to this side and disturb her groove. What if he replaced her scent with his own? What if he couldn’t hear the drunks outside now that he was further from the window? What if some of her hair clung to him? What if she came back and her side was ruined forever?
But he was comfortable.
For the first time in their relationship she was helpful. Which made him happy. Which made him sad.
Banner Image: Pixabay.com
4 thoughts on “Two is the loneliest number by Aaron Kaplan”
Excellent story. Good use of stream of conscious, and the metaphor of the sheets is well done.
This reminds me of Thurber’s One is a Wanderer. Society now allows more explicit language, but the theme of loneliness, and the reaction to it, remains the same.
This is an inspiring story. It makes me want to write about sleeping with my cat.
Hey June Go for it = that would be an interesting story!!!