Wake up. Stretch. The leg woke you up. The clock says five; too early, but you're not going back to sleep. Gasp, grimace when you push your leg too far; snatch it back and rub it until its screams diminish, until you can reach over and swallow two pills. Lay there for about twenty minutes; wait for the moment when you begin to feel the drug course through your system, when your muscles relax, try to get up. Walk to the bathroom as best you can; try to counteract the weightlessness in all limbs but one. Lean on the wall with one hand; relieve yourself and sigh deeply. Listen to the echo of your own voiced mixed with the splashing sound of urine and laugh a little. It comes out humorless; a dry, bitter little laugh. Ignore it. No emotion, right? Nothing real. Nothing meaningful. You lost all meaning so long ago that it doesn't hurt anymore to think about it. What you are is a dichotic amalgam; apathetic to your own life but completely absorbed in the mystery of everyone else, of their secrets. Of their illnesses. You're better then, superior. Important.

Get in the shower. Let the hot spray wash over you; gasp through your teeth as it stings your back. You like it hot, almost unbearable. Bring your hands to your chest; cup the water and splash it onto your face. Run your hands through your hair and be glad (most of) it's still there. Run some shampoo through the strands, letting the silky soap run down your hands. Turn around, grip the bar of the door and tilt your head back. Your hair is pushed back against your scalp, the shampoo washing away in a musk-scented downpour. Wash yourself quickly; turn the water off and linger a moment in the steam. Feel its warmth around you, sweat beading on skin in the moisture. Open the door and get out carefully, gripping the attached bar for support. It's a reminder of the glaring failure that is your body; it tears you down, holds you back. Makes you less. Open the bathroom door, watch as the steam is sucked into the hall. The warmth is pulled away, leaving you wet and cold. Towel off; wrap a towel around yourself quickly. Don't look down. Don't let your gaze fall to the right. Don't look at it. But you can feel the dip, the area that you used to have. It's weird, to talk about a part of your body in the past tense. Used to have. Used to do. The towel slips in your hand and drops and you're looking at swirling, distorted flesh that was once smooth, powerful. Breathe. Don't think. But the anger rises; you can feel it, can't you? Pooling in your stomach, threatening to dissolve your very being in a mass of rage. A fit of fury. Why you? What did you do?


Stop it. Stop thinking. Stop wishing. Life is what it is; soon enough it will be over. You'll die of liver failure; you're resigned to the fact. Look in the mirror. Clear away the steam with your hand, leaving small opaque trails. Check your eyes. Are the whites yellow yet? No? Good. Look into your eyes, meet your own gaze. What do you see? Is it someone you like? Find the different colors; blue, white. Flecks of green, a spot of gold. When you were young, people called them striking. Now they're probing. Turn away from the mirror; leave the bathroom. Look out the window for a moment; bathe in the blue light of pre-dawn hours. It's still, quiet, and you don't break the spell. Peace is hard to come by. Drop the towel. Pull on boxers. Slide jeans on, pick a shirt. You're still up far too early. Lay back down in bed; stare at the ceiling. Feel the sleep-warmed hand of the person next to you slide over your chest. Fingers slide over your collarbone, fall into the dip in your neck and curl there, stroking softly. A head moves into the place where your shoulder meets your neck and breath curls over your cheek.

"What time is it?" The voice is soft, a whisper.

"Too early. Go back to sleep." You whisper too, then wonder why. But the hand is moving lover now, moving through the dip of your chest, down your stomach. It reaches your pants and stops, pauses.

"I'll get us both back to sleep." Look at him now, meet brown eyes and a soft, unguarded smile. Smile back, quickly. Let him slip his hand into the soft brown curls underneath the cloth of your boxers. Feel yourself respond to his touch.

"I should get up early more often," you say, then lift your hips so the pants you've just put on can be removed.

When racing heartbeats return to some semblance of a normal rhythm, you watch him fall asleep, then follow.