I realize one of my feet is sticking out of the sheets, too warm. The sun is coming in, heating it through the dirty window at the end of the bed, making all of me uncomfortable. Still, I keep my eyes closed, lie motionless, waiting for my head to clear. I become aware of the smell of dried sweat on the skin of a working man, armpit smell, sex from the middle of the night. I remember Wade’s back, fresh off the oil rig, assuming that I’ll drop everything and be all about him for the next twenty-one days until he has to leave again. But I suppose I’m no better than him, just letting him expect it and not taking a stand if I don’t like it. I do have my volunteer work at Children’s, after all.
I look over at him lying on his side, his tanned chest, shoulder and left arm uncovered, his breathing heavy and even. All but a corner of his pillow got stuffed between the wall and the bed during the night and his head ended up tilted at an odd angle. His sandy blonde and grey hair is matted in places, sticking up funny in others. I study his middle-aged face. He’s losing his good looks. They’re drying up in the sun. He’s becoming someone else, someone leathery, brown except for white in the relaxed creases of his face. Of course I’m no spring chicken, either, getting all soft and out of shape.
I breathe out with a snuffing sound and sit up, disgusted. Wade stirs, and I don’t care, don’t care if I disturb him or not. He disturbs me plenty in all ways. He’s like a wet dog that bounds into a room, his muddy feet tracking everywhere, smiling at everyone, tongue lolling, just happy to be a part of what’s going on. I sit there for awhile thinking about how my life is working out, whether I like it or not, and I don’t think I do. I feel dry, like my mouth is dry now, dry and bitter tasting, like unsweetened chocolate, like my regard for Wade. I think about telling his messy self to get out and stay out, but there’s something that I like about him, something he gives me, only I can’t tell exactly what it is, and that is the most annoying thing of all.
I scramble to get untangled from the sheets and throw them back on Wade, irritated. I crawl down to the bottom of the bed to the window and beat on the sash to unstick it. Wade could fix that but he never does, always puts it off until it’s too late and he has to go back to the rig. He’ll get it next time, he always says. I push and bang up on the sash just to get the window to budge open a couple of inches, then I flop back onto the bed, on my back. The morning air is cold for summer, rushes in like a front changing out the air from stuffy to pleasant, pleasant with the smell of cool nothingness. It feels good, makes me smile. Then Wade opens his eyes. He squints at me.
“C’mere, Baby,” he says, all sleepy.
I stay lying on my back looking at the ceiling. “No,” I say.
He reaches over and pulls me tight toward him anyway like he always does, and it makes me mad like it always does that he thinks he can just do that whenever he wants. Of course I’m partly to blame, since I don’t stand up for myself. I wiggle to make more space between us. He lets me out a little and holds me there. I frown at him.
“Oh, here now!” he says. “Cut that out. You know you love me!”
“No, I don’t,” I say, and turn my face away from him.
“You do,” he says. He pulls my face back toward him and he kisses me. “And I been thinkin’ ’bout makin’ a plan for us, a plan for gettin’ out of this shack and buildin’ a big ol’ house together somewhere,” he says.
I pull my face away. “Plans,” I scoff.
“Yeah, plans,” he says, looking hurt.
We’ve been down this plans-for-a-house road before, and down the side streets of plans-for-a-business, plans-for-traveling, plans-for-plans. I’ve been with Wade for what seems like forever and nothing has ever happened like he said it would. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been happy and not happy with him, both at the same time, and he’s been happy with me, with anything, so long as he’s living. But all that joie de vivre has just meant broken promises, dashed expectations, offenses and disappointments and grudges piling up on one another until we’re living at half mast. And we go on half dead until what?
Wade shakes me. “Kimmy?”
I turn toward him, focus my eyes on his. I see concern, hope, and fun in them. He really is a good guy. I laugh.
“That’s better,” he says, relieved.
“Hey, let’s go down to Marple’s for coffee!” I say.
Missalister’s “American dream,” copyright © 2009, was spun off the Sunday Scribblings prompt “#172 – The Plan” Click here for more on prompt #172 from other Sunday Scribblings participants.