To Sleep

"Come sit me to sleep," said the voice on the phone.

"It's one in the morning."

"Please? If you want to."

Fifteen minutes later he was knocking on the door of her dormroom. She answered, pulling down the hem of her sleepshirt. "Thank you," she said. He followed her in, shut the door behind them. She climbed into her bed pulling the many layers of covers over her. He sat on the floor next to the bed, facing the opposite wall. She was very picky about with whom she would share her bed. For her, sharing her bed was as intimate as sharing her body, and that was no longer what the two of them were about.

He started speaking; simple words, soothing words, the story of his day, the story of his week. As he was speaking she reached a hand from under the covers, rested it on his shoulder. He took her hand in his, never stopping the gentle murmur of speech, sitting on the cold tile of the floor, knees pulled to his chest.

He shut his eyes as he spoke, letting the words become all. After a long while he heard her breathing slow, felt her muscles jump as her body settled into sleep. He returned her hand to under the covers, walked to the door, let himself out. When he got out of the dorm the night air was cold and still.

                                                               --November 1997