Tuesday, April 15

Death For Me

THE DAY I DISCOVERED that my lover sometimes died, for a moment or two, was a Sunday after we had enjoyed a trip to see my grandmother and the sun had been shining perfectly soft spring, when all is grand and nothing is unpleasant. It was a Sunday evening and we were—as one is inclined to be after an eventful weekend—a trifle tired. I suggested we go to bed early so that we could make love before we slept and then take our time falling asleep and perhaps, in the end, I suspected we might get seven hours. She climbed into bed wearing some delicious lingerie. I thought about how good she would taste and the inside of her body and how much I would enjoy falling asleep with her.
She lay in our bed; her side; equal in size to my side, but no less comfortable. I undressed and talked to her, as she lay there quietly. When I positioned myself beside her, she was limp as a banknote. She did not move closer to me, nor did she smile or ask me the time.
She was, of course, dead.
It was something to be in bed with a lover dead.
All the good feelings that I had inside of me died, too, as though there were a great orchestra playing in perfect time and to one beat; she the strings; I the brass. I lifted her dead hand and her dead hand fell down when I let it go. She did not move closer to me, nor did she smile or ask me the time. I picked up her limp hand once more and—pretending it were a game—dropped it on to the bed. Nothing. Not once did she stir or laugh or erect herself upon my unsettled bedsheets. I started to call her name. ‘If,’ I thought—‘I call her name, maybe she will wake up, come back to life.’ I called her name and told her to wake up. I called it over and over but she did not react because she was dead. I climbed all over my bed and little rocks of vomit rolled into my mouth. I swallowed the rocks and touched my dead lover’s hand.
I got up and switched on the light. It wasn’t much use to turn on the light but, illumined, at least I could see of how little use everything was.
She was lying there and she was dead, but she was well lit. Again, I called her name; again she did not respond. I started to sob because my lover was dead. I put my ear to her mouth and heard her rapid breathing; I put my fingers to her neck and felt her disjointed pulse; I opened her eyes and saw her pupils contract. I lay there and held her.
Waiting for a dead lover is exhausting.
Slowly she awoke. First her eyes opened and she could move only those, so she communicated to me in a complex series of blinks and looks to the left and to the right. We learned to communicate like lovers again. Then she started to speak but every word took it out of her. Eventually she got feelings in her fingers and her extremities. I shifted her into a more comfortable position. She thanked me and finally we were able to sleep.
It was difficult for me to sleep because, although she was no longer dead, my whole body thought that she was dead and that nothing was right. I finally fell asleep as sleeping is to tear asunder all of what is alive and definite around you.
A little while later she died again. I put her in a comfortable position but it looked too much to me like she was lying in a coffin, so I rearranged her. I opened her eyelids and her eyes darted about quickly. I shook her and shouted at the top of my voice—‘Wake up!’ but she didn’t wake up because she was dead. When she came to, she apologised. Cold water in a cup through a straw was sucked up.
She was alive, for a bit.
I lay there as she fell asleep, then I fell asleep. Her screaming woke me up. Night terrors. I stroked her face—‘A man was coming up your stairs and I couldn’t wake you up.’ I saw the man coming up my stairs. He was a shape of a man and moving on rails and he reached through the thin white sheet that is hung to keep out the sunlight. I thought about the man for a long time.
She died again just before I was due to get up for work. As—so slowly—her body came back to her, tears were dried out on tissues. ‘Sorry … You’re going to be late. … Don’t be angry … I’m sorry.’ I rushed to work. I could not stop worrying about her constant dying and coming alive. It was a glorious day. It was undeniable that the world was unsteady to me because I was so tired that I did not know quite how to keep my balance. Perspiration was drenching me. ‘Hopefully,’ I hoped—‘She is sleeping now, like I told her to, and not dying, which I told her not to do.’
Ninety-four minutes later. I had bought some tobacco for myself, and an energy drink for her. She was in bed, asleep. She wasn’t dead. I know the difference between death and sleep. I put the drink next to the bed, then I stood and watched her for a bit. The duvet was half cast aside. I just stood there watching her. Her big eyes opened small into big. She smiled at me and asked me to undress out of my work clothes, which I did. I wished I had more clothes to undress out of. I went over to her and became aroused by how beautiful she was, half-dead, in her lingerie. She saw the state of me and grabbed my erection and started to milk it onto her thumb.
‘Fuck me,’ she said.
‘No,’ I said—‘you died numerous times last night. Your body doesn’t know what’s going on. It can hardly move. I’m not going to fuck you.’
She smiled and opened her mouth. I lifted my penis up and she pushed her whole head down it. I lost all of my own strength and collapsed against the headboard. She sucked me until I came. I kissed her and she smiled. I knew that she was not dead anymore but was still groggy, with traces of death inside of her.
‘Now, fuck me.’
‘I don’t think that’s appropriate. You died on me. Your body is fucked right now. I don’t think sex is the answer to this question.’
‘Use your fingers, then.’
‘I will be gentle.’
I lay next to her and put one hand over and one hand under. She dribbled. She made the shape of the letter ‘n’ for ‘not dead’. After a while the ‘n’ took its full shape and finally she roared out a big orgasm and I thought she was going to cry.
She was not dead.
‘I have to go to the toilet, but promise me you won’t try to get down the stairs until I am back. If you’re going to fall down the stairs, I want you to take me out with you, then we’ll do some real damage.’
‘I promise.’
She lay there on my sofa and stared at the television set but I could tell that she was not really watching it. I made her a cup of tea and myself a pot of coffee and I tried to do some work.
Now that there was light upon everything, it felt as though the night’s events had not been real, that she had not died three times and that everything was all right all over again.

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