I drift in and out, evading the light, avoiding movement. Prone. Silent. It is an exercise in stillness. A meat cleaver has split my skull and I can feel the sharp edges deep in my scalp. It hurts to move. To breathe. My brain is swollen, tight against the bone, and every inclination is agony.
Two Tylenol. Four. Drift. Back to consciousness. Six. Eight. Sleep… I wish I could sleep.
My vision swims in a gray-green haze and I can barely manage a slit-eyed gaze. When I can stand to open my eyes, I read. Hiaasen, in bits and pieces, until he makes me laugh. Hiaasen, you bastard. Searing pain. A thousand green gremlins are hammering nails into my head. Fuck. I’m being pummeled from the inside out.
I retreat behind my eyelids at the assault and focus on my breathing until the fierce pounding recedes to a dull throb, press a cold compress against my forehead, and try not to think.
I lay prone, silent. Evading light, avoiding movement, like this I stay.
And like this he finds me. Still, hushed. Unable to move, barely able to respond.
Scarcely able to see, incapable of speaking coherently, like this he finds me.
He finds me and he tends to me. With sure movements and gentle hands. Soft voice and firm touch. He administers his quiet mercies as he would a wounded animal, a recalcitrant child. I know you’re hurting he says, though in actuality he hasn’t spoken a word. The message is in the tips of his fingers. I’ll take care of you is in his eyes as he unbuttons my shorts and pulls them down over my hips, undressing me like a doll.
He coaxes my medicine past my lips and drops a kiss on my dragon’s tail by way of goodnight, lingering briefly to inhale my scent before shushing his hand over my belly in a possessive stroke and turning out the light.
Like oil and water, or fire and gasoline, there are so many ways we get it wrong. Every day. The ties that bind can also gag, and we’re only human after all. We get it wrong.
This, I think as he leaves me to find healing in sleep, This, we get right.