An ordinary day
I woke up with the resolution that this was my last day of life; it lay warm and heavy in his stomach, like a good meal given to a hungry man. I untangled myself from Gojyo thankfully – it was far too hot for a hug, much less the four-limbed vice he'd caught me in – and left him sleeping peacefully. He made a sleepy little sound of protest, and my steps caught. So many mornings, I'd given up and crawled back into bed because I'd heard that sound.
There was a sharp knife in the kitchen cupboard, one whose edge I had tested just last night on the vegetables; it had carved through them with clean, swift precision, and it would do the same in my hands today.
Yes. A good end.
I was and am a creature of habit, and when I walked into the kitchen the first thing I noticed was the cigarette ash on the counter – next to the burned toast and the spilled water. I clicked my tongue. Really. I'd told Gojyo to wake me if he came home hungry; Gojyo could burn water on a good day.
I cleaned up the mess, tsking reproachfully. And then it was natural that I should make breakfast, because my hands were already seeking out the pots and pans and the eggs had been kept handy last night (because, as I thought, Gojyo didn't know the inside of his fridge, and it would be impolite of me to not just die on him but also leave him hungry).
Breakfast took a while to prepare, but it was finally done. I picked up the knife again, surprised that my breath was quickening – after all, I'd planned this for so long.
And then I heard someone moving in the next room. Gojyo was awake – if not happy about it. He trailed blearily into the kitchen and flooped onto the nearest flat surface.
'Wanna sleep,' he moaned.
I laid down the knife. 'I didn't wake you up, did I?'
'Food smelt nice.'
I smiled, and gave him his share.
After that, I went through the house, polishing every surface, cleaning, dusting. Because Gojyo was hopeless, really, the place would be a dump again in a week, flat, and so it was for the best that I finished the cleaning. Gojyo smoked and helped reluctantly (he accused me of making him feel guilty at least six times a day), usually ruining whatever he'd cleaned by dropping ash on it. I didn't mind much. The company was nice.
Then I made lunch. His favourite foods, or as many as I could make with the available ingredients; a sort of apology in advance. We ate together, in companionable silence; Gojyo was still tired from 'work' and his eyes had just cleared.
In the afternoon, Gojyo was usually around for a while after lunch; his peregrinations about town began in the evening. He would certainly notice if I tried anything immediately after lunch, and so I sat on the couch and read. A stack of all my favourite books, fiction and non-fiction, nearly two feet high. Gojyo gave it a curious glance, and then picked up one of his magazines and sat down on the other end of the couch.
I waited for him to grow bored and leave or fall asleep. Inevitably, his eyes closed, and I would have crept away to find that knife and finish it in the bathroom (easier to clean the tiles afterward); but unfortunately Gojyo had decided that sleeping on the couch involved draping himself over my legs and clamping an arm around my waist, and it would have been pointless to try and shift him. So I read, one hand absently stroking his head and neck, through the hair which reminded me less and less of blood as the days went by. It was too hot for summer, and I knew he'd have complained if he'd been awake, but he seemed quite content to be where he was, and I didn't mind either.
At some point, I fell asleep. We must have slept the whole afternoon and into the evening, because when my eyes opened the sun was coming in at the window as it always did, just before it dipped below the horizon. And Gojyo was still there, so I didn't bother to move. The sunlight was pretty on his hair.
Gojyo woke rather late, and apologised rather insincerely, and I let him, smiling just as insincerely (or did I? It was hard for me to tell sometimes).
'Are you going out?' I asked him.
'Nah, not today,' he replied. 'Had a good night's winnings last night. Can't push luck too far, ya know.'
I laughed, although I was disappointed, and I let it go at that. I'd just have to stay up later.
And I tried very hard. I made sure to give him wine at dinner (which I took an inordinate amount of time making – even Gojyo noticed), because that made him sleepy, but he refused it, claiming that the very thought of drink right now would colour him a pale shade of green. I was actually getting tired myself – tired of waiting, tired from the day's work, and tired of the anticipation that had turned sour in my mouth, the clean resolve of the morning waning, withering and fading with the light of the moon. It didn't seem such a good thing anymore.
Still, I tried. We played cards, and talked, and Gojyo became steadily more outrageous as time went by. He was at his sparkling best; witty, sarcastic, perceptive, charming. And as always, he drew me into it, provoking my response until I was forced to match him, parry for parry and thought for thought. One thing I'd always admired about him was how easily time could flow by in his presence, how quickly he could make me forget everything but him.
It was nearly midnight, nearly the next day, and he was still wide awake and showing no signs of sleeping soon; of course he wouldn't, he'd spent most of the day asleep, his nocturnal instinct was on full blast. I, on the other hand……I……
How foolish he is, to think that you don't notice. He insists that you're not the idiot you like to make yourself out to be, and then he falls into the same trap. He really should learn that while you can be inattentive, oblivious, superficial, irresponsible and straightforward, you are none of those things where he is concerned.
He's slumped against the kitchen table, eyes closed of their own, the same way you found him when you went to get a drink and came back a minute later – nodded off between one thought and another. He looks incredibly fragile like this, head tucked into one arm, the other stretched out, those sharp, darkly amused, bone-deep searing green eyes closed. Young and small and delicate, and it catches at you like somebody yanked out your heart, chokes you and lifts you at the same time and you can't ever let him know.
So you call him names, mutter them under your breath, an equal and random mix of curses and compliments. And you heave him up as gently as you can, one arm supporting his neck so his head doesn't fall back – it did once, and oh, the line of his throat, boneless, pale, soft and tense at the same time – and the other arm under his legs, and you drag him to the bed and put him down. He stirs, a little, and you whisper to him, just his name, and he quiets.
You get in next to him, pull the covers up, wrap around him, hold as hard as you can, because if you let go he might never be there again. He doesn't have insomnia – just the nightmares, and those you can deal with – so it's safe to relax, to sleep and not worry about him waking up in the middle of the night. You're holding tight enough that he won't leave. Today, at least.
Until the next time.