Don't worry about the fish. I'm taking care of them. Yes, it was Thursday before I remembered to do so and you'd left Tuesday morning, but everything is under control now, I promise. Of course they didn't eat Friday because when I reached for that bright yellow bottle of flakes we keep at the top of the aquarium I discovered it empty and didn't remember to run to the store until Saturday. Actually, because it was one-hundred degrees yesterday I didn't leave the apartment until eight, after had it cooled down and I was on my way to Andy and Sarah's for what seems to have turned into our weekly Saturday BBQ. Technically, though, I guess I didn't feed them until Sunday because I didn't get home last night until after midnight. But I promise, really, that I've been taking care of the fish. I mean, they're right there by the front door––I'd have to be an idiot to miss them.
Do you remember when we first met and I was listening to a lot of Phish? That was as close as I ever came to The Dead, who I never really cared for even though all my closest friends were deeply moved by their music and the experience of seeing them perform live. I never "got it" so I listened to Phish instead, which was like Dead-Lite, but even they fell by the wayside as the years passed and now there are only a few songs which remain in rotation on my iPod. One of them, "Lengthwise," has become my morning earworm, the song which begins running through my head the moment I open my eyes. It's a simple song, comprised of a single line repeated five or six times with the sound of a ticking clock and the heavy breathing of someone sleeping running softly under it.
"When you're there I sleep lengthwise, and when you're gone I sleep diagonal in my bed."
I have slept diagonal every night since you've been gone. Thankfully the chilluns have been there for me. They stopped sleeping with us back in June when it really started warming up, but they don't seem to like the idea of me sleeping alone and so they've rallied around their papa. Winnie has assumed her post on my hip, or the small of my back when I roll over onto my belly. Olive has moved from your pile of pillows to mine, where she perches above my head, a single paw outstretched and resting against my face all night, just to be sure of me, or rather, for me to be sure of her. Pip has taken to curling up under my arm, making a nice snug little crook between my ribs and my armpit. It's his new anesthesia position, for once he assumes it, I am asleep in bed or napping on the couch within minutes. Even Dunc, who hasn't touched the top of the bed in over a month, has taken to sleeping with me, at the foot of the bed in the long triangle shape leftover on your side after I cuddle with your pillow. He, too, reaches out, but rather than a paw, he rests his chin against my calf. The fish tend to stay in the tank, which is fine with me for I'd quickly grow tired of rescuing them from the cats.
I don't sleep well when you're gone. I don't even eat well, which I don't mind so much, but the sleeping is driving me crazy. Much to the disapproval of all assembled I toss and turn which requires a lot of quick thinking on the part of Winnie, who lifts herself off of me and twinkle-toes across my back until I settle down. Duncan, however, seems to be benefiting from your absence. When I can't sleep I take him out, sometimes just down to the end of the yard but also to the park, which is nice and cool and damp, and very quiet on the far side away from the late-night traffic on Bowles. Every now and then we pass other insomniacs, or the occasional teenage couple who have no where else to go, but mostly we have it all to ourselves, which reminds me of winter, which seems far away but isn't really. Last night we watched the moon, as white as bleached bone, or whiter than that really. And there was Jupiter not far away from her, the biggest point of light in the sky, bright and enormous and as magical as a planet can be. I felt safe under them, with Duncan at my side, our tracks through the grass behind us illuminated like the scales of a fish who rests on the surface of a night lake. I wondered if you were awake, standing on the big porch at your mother's house, smoking a cigarette and looking up at the big Northern Michigan sky, which is also the big Colorado sky, only an hour ahead. I wondered if you knew Jupiter for what it was or if it was just a very bright star to be wished upon. And if you did wish on it I hope your wish comes true. That's what I wished for.
And so we came home, the cats gathering around me on the bed as I pulled your pillow close so I could smell you and arranged myself diagonally as Dunc settled near my feet. I hope you are sleeping more peacefully than I am and I hope that Duncan meets you in your dreams, his tail wagging just as furiously as when you come home each night, his ball clutched in his mouth ready to be tossed. Those are my favorite dreams. I wonder if they're yours, too?
Hurry home. You're missed, especially by the fish, who are doing well. I promise.