I don’t know how or when it started, but the beau and I have a nightly ritual when we go to sleep. We turn on the bathroom light and climb into bed, then we burrow under the covers right up next to each other.
Sometimes this ritual devolves into teasing accusations, comical wrestling, and mock attempts to throw one another off the mattress. Sometimes we lie there and swap stories we’ve collected since the previous night. Sometimes the quiet of the room and the stillness of our bodies leads our minds to those fears and worries that tend to go unnoticed in the light of day. Once in a while we raise our voices, and occasionally I cry. Other times, we hug each other just once before switching off the light and collapsing back in bed, exhausted.
Last night was one of the brief, nonverbal nights. The beau had been reading before we went to bed, and don’t tell anyone this, but giving the beau a book at night is like putting bourbon in a baby’s bottle. At 11:00 p.m. I glanced over and saw him listing dramatically, right side crumpled like an accordion, face smushed into the armrest of his chair, hand still limply grasping the book in his lap. At midnight I gently put my hand on his arm and pointed him to bed. Within a few minutes he was breathing deeply, a sign that he’d drifted easily back into sleep. Sleep, however, was not as benevolent to me.
I stared at the ceiling for several minutes until I decided to conduct an experiment. I wanted to see if I could influence a comatose beau by whispering in his ear. Maybe my words would take root and manifest, like a fortune cookie for the unconscious. I settled on what to say — I was proud of myself for keeping it nice — then wriggled over to the edge of his pillow and paused. I had to move slowly or else I’d wake him. While waiting, I tested the volume level by quietly whispering my line aloud and found I could barely hear myself. Satisfied, I whispered it again: “You’re going to have a good day tomorrow.”
To my utter surprise the beau suddenly rolled over, kissed me on the forehead, murmured “You too,” and rolled back again.
“Well fine, then, don’t have a good day,” I muttered, irritated that the purity of my experiment had been compromised.
Silence. Had he ever actually been awake?
“You… you have bacon in your pants,” I tried again, louder, looking for a reaction.
For the record: despite my best intentions, he ended up having a shitty day. Maybe next time I should tell him he’ll never be a quadrillionaire.