He gives my shoulder a squeeze and leaves after placing a demitasse of espresso on the bedside table. “Have a good ski,” I mumble from the depths of the down comforter.
Left alone, I imagine his long, strong legs gliding up snowy hills through evergreens so dark they look black and white birch trees in between appearing like his breath as he exhales in the cold.
In our bedroom I lie in a halo of light from the bedside lamp, everything bright and colour saturated. The window blinds are open but daylight has yet to define anything outside my circle of light. I feel like I’m in a bubble perfumed with coffee and whatever the hell is the smell of my body in the morning. Yesterday’s shower and shampoo, the heat between my toes, under my arms, behind my ears, under my eyelids. The heat of a freshly shampooed human in a closed space. I’m protected in my bubble, shielded by the down comforter and watched over by my lap dog whose head rests as he sleeps snuffling against my thigh.
I’m reading Alice Munro’s collection Dear Life, the first story “To Reach Japan”, trying to understand how she does it and in my dome of light all is illuminated and I see the story isn’t solely crafted by occult gifts. But I know, when I go to write later today, revise a story I’ve been working on since 2016, it won’t sound right. I am – d’uh – not Alice Munro.
I flag pages with coloured post-it notes. So many good things. So many. Like this:
Here nobody was safe. Judgement might be passed behind backs, even on the known and published. An air of cleverness or nerves obtained no matter who you were.
Immediately I think of Twitter because I’m new to the party, a bystander not sure what to do, what to say or why the hell bother saying it. How outside my light bubble it is. How unsafe. How everyone has a cause and they caw constantly like crows over carrion and I’m lost. How I’ve arrived at a party where
…she had somehow lost her bearings but getting a feeling that there was a giddy atmosphere of permission in the room, and it didn’t matter about not making friends, she could just wander around and pass her own judgments.
So I burrow further into down, sip my coffee, enjoy the perfume of my room, my life, safe.
Gradually time fills the bedroom with daylight. My light bubble dissipates and everything is covered in neutral cloudy January morning light. Instead of one shiny spot with me in the centre, I become diffused. Defused. Melded into an undistinguished and filtered day.