Because I even see you in my sleep, and not just see you, but feel, smell and sense you in that other reality and even there, I feel home.
Because I can think of nothing more that I want or need but to sleep beside you, always. Just sleep, or if not sleep, just be there, near you, listening to you breathe while you sleep, hearing your heart beat, feeling your chest rise and fall. Being near and part of your existence.
I dream about living in some house somewhere with you, some place that has a big porch out front and maybe out back too. I want to hang laundry on the line while you slave over the lawns that you complain about every time you have to do them and grumble about whose stupid idea was it to live in a house with so many lawns anyway? And when you’re done doing those lawns, I’ll run you a bath and sit in that thing with you and rub your back and shoulders while you soak your poor aching bones; and I’ll do a really shitty job of it because I’m bad at massages but you’ll tell me that they’re the best thing in the world and nothing makes you feel better like my hands do on you.
And then we’ll go outside and I’ll sit on a seat in that yard that you made look so great while you cook barbecue and we’ll stay out there and eat together and we’ll have to go inside eventually because it gets too cold or starts to get dark. And then I’ll complain about doing the dishes as much as you complained about having to mow the lawns so you’ll do those dishes with me in that kitchen of ours and I’ll flick you with water and you’ll whip me with the dish towel and we’ll laugh and we’ll forget what we were there for in the first place.
When we’re done, we’ll go and sit in front of the TV even though it’s getting late and there’s nothing but infomercials on or some old overly cheesy 80’s movie and it won’t matter because we’ll be curled up together on that comfy old couch together holding hands or leaning on each other and that’s the part we’ll be there for anyway, just to be close to one another because there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.
After we’ve both yawned our way through a couple of hours of pointless television, we’ll go to bed and I’ll curl up into your side while you lie there on your back staring at the ceiling and we’ll talk about something that doesn’t even make a lot of sense but it’ll be mostly you doing the talking and me smiling and giggling because we do that when we’re tired. You ramble and I get the giggles and eventually, I’ll start to feel sleepy, but right before I close my eyes you’ll tell me how much you love me and I’ll tell you the same and you’ll say you love me more and on it will go because there’s no beating you in that argument, so I let you win because silently I know that I love you more anyway. And after you’re asleep and I hear only the sound of you breathing and the rain outside falling on the roof, I’ll be reminded that this is where I’ve always wanted to be, home.
I have itchy feet again. This sense of not being where I am supposed to be did not come out of the blue, but yet I have stayed put for far longer than I had originally intended for many reasons, a lot of which have been things that are completely out of my control. It’s been over a decade already, and the longest time since I left home as a teenager when I have actually stayed in one place for this length of time. With maybe a little tongue in cheek, and in keeping a long story short, I guess the easiest way to explain why is to cite ‘A series of unfortunate events’ and leave it at that, for now.
My immediate family are nearby, but my closest friends are all gone now, moved on to different places for their own reasons, and I am regretting not doing the same while I still had the chance.
I talked with a good friend very recently about a time and a place where I was once happy, actually happy, and it triggered the train of thought I am on now. To be honest, there are a lot of things on my mind lately, so many that I’ve been at a loss to even begin ordering them, but the one that seems most predominant is this.
I am not home.
Home was back in the city, surrounded by friends,good food, music and the smell of the sea air. Where I wanted to get out of bed in the mornings and step outside with nothing else on my mind other than simply enjoying the day. Enjoying life.
It’s not like that for me here, not for at least the last five or six years. I am not living here, just simply existing. It also makes me wonder when I start to feel nostalgic for that place where I was most comfortable. Am I just chasing ghosts? There are days, and those days seem to be more often than not, lately, when I just want to close the door on my current life, walk away and start again. I’m not sure whether that is a good thing, or not. What I do know is, for personal reasons, doing that would be both impractical and selfish. I have far too many responsibilities tying me to my current situation, and by default, location.
But Gods, do I want to. I want to just run away and find myself again. I want to just run and not stop until I find where I am supposed to be.
Whether home is in the circle of someone’s arms or an actual place, or both, I am simply just not there yet.
I am not home.
She’d fallen asleep in the armchair beside their bed. Her neck was stiff and it was disorienting to wake up in the room now filled with the fading light of the day. She had only intended to sit for a minute or two after checking on him, to rest her eyes for a moment. Had she been asleep an hour, two?
“I’ll tell you everything. Anything you want to know … when I wake up. You won’t like it, but … I’ll tell you.”
But he hadn’t woken up yet. Not for days. That first night when she’d found him again, she hadn’t slept at all, leaning against his shoulder and listening to his every sound and breath. He’d talked a lot in his sleep. It had been fitful and troubled. And on arriving home, she’d drawn him a bath, watching him from the doorway as he’d cleaned himself up, tending to the more minor wounds on his face and upper body afterwards, and she hadn’t asked a single question. She trusted him. If he said he would tell her everything, then he would, when he was ready. And until then, she wouldn’t be going anywhere.
She tilted her head forward and rubbed at her sore neck, and he stirred at that moment, murmuring her name. She turned to see that he was still half asleep, and rolled towards the side of the bed where she lay, reaching for her. She smiled and reached to touch his shoulder from where she sat.
“Dae, “she spoke softly, “I’m h-here.”
He startled and turned over, a faint smile curling the corners of his mouth and she moved from her chair to sit down on the edge of the bed, brushing a strand of hair across his forehead, out of his eyes. He seemed happy for a moment, just a fleeting moment, but then that look was back. She saw it in his eyes. He was physically here, yes, but he was miles away, still. Burdened.
She slipped into the bed beside him and his arms moved to fold around her readily and she nestled herself into his front, resting her head against his chest, tracing the line of a scar with her fingertips absently.
“I’m sorry…”he began to say, but nothing followed except the sounds of his soft snoring.
“I’ll tell you everything. Anything you want to know … when I wake up.”
Pushing the large double doors of the room at the end of the grand hall on the second floor of the Manor, her presence, should anyone actually be around at that time of night, would have immediately been made aware of by the groaning of the old library doors as they swung open. Sure enough, having stepped inside only two steps, Felano would move out from the shadows in the corner, smiling at her.
“Evening, Ana. It’s good to see you. We’ve all … no, I’ve missed you.”
“Gods, Fel! I swear, you step out of the shadows like that one more time and you’ll scare me to death one of these days!” But almost as soon as the words were out of her mouth, a large smile spread widely across her face. “You know what though? I missed you, too.”
And then, impulsively, she did something she had never done before, such was the overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude she felt on seeing him again following their conversation just days earlier, that she quickly moved forward a couple of steps, closing any gap between the two of them and pressed herself against his chest, hugging him, a big, warm, well overdue hug, the first, in fact, that she had ever given him despite their undisputed long, entirely overcomplicated friendship.
Fel stiffened for a moment, probably from the shock of her physical contact, her warmth, so she pulled back long moments later, softening her tone, looking up at him, she told him.
“Seriously, though Fel. There’s a few things I need to say, one of them being thank you.”
“Ana, there is one thing you should know about you and I, you will never have to thank me for what I do.”
He’d always told her that. He’d picked her up, or tried to, emotionally, so many times before, had offered to give her anything she wanted, do for her anything she needed, and always, he’d told her that she never need thank him for any of it, but she would, regardless. She had much to be thankful for, and she would make that clear now, she had to, she needed to. She owed him so much.
“Call it destiny, call it meant to be, whatever other notion or overused cliché that people like to use, but there is a reason, there has to be, that you and I are the one constant and always have been, in each others lives, and this … this is one of them. What has happened recently, how you have helped me, this time you may have saved my life.”
She paused to look at him, a knowing look, the statement itself weighted with a significance that he would understand.
“You want to know why I care so much, Ana? Do you really want to know how I have felt for you since the day that you saved me from myself? You are the reason I am standing here right now. My life from that moment to this one exists because you did one seemingly simple thing, when you knocked that sword from my hands. I have loved you ever since that damned day. If you had been one second slower, I would not be here. I owe you my life, Ana, and I am thankful each and every day for you.”
“I’m sorry that I can’t ever seem to say or do, or even feel what you would like me to.I can’t give you what you need, what you want. But, I will tell you something, Felano. This world would not be the same without you in it. Maybe you will never believe that, but for me it remains the truth. You do mean something to me, but can I define it? I can’t … I wish I could.”
She looked at the man, the closest friend she had in the world, although why she had been so stubbornly blind to that fact all this time she would never know, and realized that she was lucky beyond these worlds to have him. So she voiced this, the last thing she would say before turning in for the night, the first night that she would actually find herself sleeping soundly in a very, very long time.
“I give you nothing, and you give me everything in return. I don’t deserve you, yet here you are, ever constant. Thank you.”
Ana blinked a few times slowly, rubbing at her eyes once they opened properly, waking from a sleep so deep that she forgot for a moment, and for the second time in as many hours, where she was. The bed was as warm and comfortable as it had been the morning before but this time she wasn’t waking alone. Turning her head, she saw that he was still sleeping, and she quickly and quietly slipped out of the bed, making a couple of friendly clicking sounds at the Felhound, who looked up at her from his spot in the corner, but didn’t move. Finding a thin shirt to slip on, she moved around the house quietly, looking for something to write on. There were at least a couple of people that she needed to write to, letting them know that she was safe, but had been delayed a little longer than expected. She knew that had her sister actually still been at the Orders estate when Ana’s belongings had arrived but weren’t followed by Ana herself soon after, she would be in a mild state of panic, and that needed addressing, yesterday, but …
“I don’t want to impose any longer than I have already, or outstay my welcome.”
“Please, consider this your home, if you wish it to be…”
She sat herself down at a desk in the living room, having found some parchment and a quill and began to write.