I know you used to watch me when I slept. I always knew.


You thought you were quiet. You thought I would not know, but I didn't survive in Afghanistan for so long by pure chance. I know when people watch me. I have that sense, you know. I knew.

I dreamt you died. I dreamt of the pool, and the semtex, and that the flames howled and burned through everything. I was untouched, and your heart dripped from a hole in your chest. Like the Tin Soldier. Your heart, molten, on the floor. And I couldn't hold it in, I couldn't hold you together. And it tasted like sand and blood and the faint dizziness of burning gasolene.

Do you know what it feels like, not being able to hold you together? When I saw you crumble, disbelieving, broken and disconcerted? Do you? I feel as though I have failed the world. Failed everything.

If no one can save you, then who can? Who can possibly see what I see, what I never saw to begin with, the man you are between the cracks, the soft voice and the soothing touch. The innocent bewilderment when someone doesn't understand why you did something. Why someone would love another human. Why anyone, anyone, would love you.

I woke in the dark and I did not breathe. If I breathed, then it would mean that I continued to live while the Tin Soldier didn't.


And then I smelt you, the stale smell of spilt experiments, milk, clothing a few days old and mussy hair. And my shampoo, damned git, can't you find your own shampoo? And the soft pad of bare feet on a cold floor.

You would brave horrors for me.

Why? Why would you? Ordinary, ordinary, ordinary me.

I was never the only one to suffer from dreams. I still do.
But you watched, silent in the door frame, and I could hear the hesitation. The desire to enter, the need to leave, the resulting limbo.
And I wondered if it would be right for me to invite you in, ask you to sit by my bed, ask you to lie with me so that I wouldn't have to wake, thinking you were gone. How is that fine? How could that be fine? But I can't explain it. Not now.

I can't wake up and think it's okay. I can't wake up and know that below me, you might not be sleeping. I won't hear you. I won't hear the chaos and I won't hear the music and I won't know that you aren't gone.

Because I still see you burning, and the blood that escapes your head is oil and it reeks when it burns. And your heart can't be kept in your chest.

I try to keep it in for you, but you never let me. You never let me and you die.

And I wake up alone, remembering how you felt when you stood in the door, how it was when I wanted you to be near but didn't ask. And it doesn't make it hurt any less. And it doesn't make it okay.

I still don't know how to feel.

Won't you come back and watch me sleep? Won't you do that, for me?