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Dreams with Peter were not the typical mini-movie style of normal dreams. They felt real. I couldn’t distinguish them from an actual memory. Had they actually happened? Where was the line between dream and reality?
I sat cross legged on my bed. Peter sat next to me, he braced his feet against the floor, and gripped the edge of my mattress as if was all that kept him from leaping off into space. He was overwhelmingly sad, all slumped into himself. I didn’t know what to do for him. Pain rolled off him in tangible waves.
I stroked his back and murmured comforting sounds. I don’t know how long we sat like that. I don’t remember how we got there, but it had been the same for several nights in a row now. Sometimes, I would be tucked up under blankets, sometimes, I would sit next to him. We would sit, and though I don’t remember actually talking, we talked. Peter told me all about his life, and I told him about mine. Tonight was different, he didn’t speak.
I leaned against his back, and tried to rub the tension out of his arm. His grip was so hard I was afraid he would rip my bedding. He snatched his arm up and away from me like a cat. I let him, I didn’t want to hurt him.
“I don’t know what to do for you, Peter.” Probably a stupid thing to say, but I didn’t know what to do. My heart broke for him.
He shook his head. “It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.”
I didn’t exactly know what he was talking about, and yet, I knew he meant having died. When he turned to me, his eyes were rimmed with dark pink. Full of pain and tears.
I adjusted myself on the bed and reached up to guide him down to my lap. His legs stretched out, and hung over the end of my bed. His head rested on my thigh, his breath hot against my skin. With out of focus eyes, he stared into the void.
I stroked his hair, and watched his face. Even in his sadness, he was beautiful, and large. I tried to soothe him until the texture of his shaggy hair made my fingertips go numb. Are men’s heads always so big? Why did I think the weirdest things at the most inopportune moments?
I whispered, “I’d help you if I knew what you needed.”
He rolled his face into my leg. I could feel his body quake.
I curled over him and held him the best I could. He hurt, and somehow, he found me. I felt like there was a reason for this, and I wanted to help.
I rolled over and woke with a snort. My dream of holding Peter was replaced with the reality of my bedroom in the middle of the night and David’s naked shoulder in front of me. I reached up to pet his skin. How different these two men were—one so very real, and one in so much pain.
©2019 Lulu M Sylvian