Santa Fe at Night
The moment I had been dreading arrived. Barbara retired early. Ernesto and Charlotte went out together and Matt spent some time chatting with Chris and me. Finally, Matt asked if we needed anything and I told him no. He said, “That’s me off, then. You two sleep well. French toast for breakfast. No special time to get up. Sleep as long as you like.” He disappeared into the room he shared with Barbara.
“Do you think you can stand to spend one night with me?” Chris asked.
I didn’t trust myself to speak, so I merely nodded and headed toward the bedroom. I grabbed my pajamas out of my suitcase and told Chris I would be back in a few minutes.
I went into the bathroom and closed the door. I sat on the closed lid of the toilet and buried my face in my pajamas. So many thoughts swirled in my head. Earlier, no time presented itself for me to ponder the things Barbara said to me. I felt properly chastised for ignoring my husband. Chris said it to me when he told me I didn’t spend time with him. Because of my anger, I didn’t pay attention to what he said. He told me what he wanted; me wanted me to pay attention to him.
All day, every day. Big things don’t destroy a marriage. Little things do. My husband and I needed to spend every single moment possible together to get over the hump. Kathy was not the problem in my marriage.
Chris was on the right side of the bed when I entered the bedroom, bedecked in my pajamas. He always slept on the right side of the bed. The lamp on his side was on, so I didn’t bother with the one on my side of the bed.
“This bed is pretty comfortable,” he said to me.
I pulled up the blanket and slid in next to him. The bed was a full size and we slept in a queen size at home. I felt the warmth of his leg beside mine.
“I was kinda dreading this,” he told me.
“Me, too,” I confessed.
“Matt gave it to me with both barrels,” Chris said.
“Barbara did the same thing to me.”
“Matt told me if I wanted you to come with me somewhere, I should just ask instead of waiting for you to invite yourself.”
“Barbara told me I should get you involved in projects like getting you to help me make dinner.”
“Please don’t make me do the dishes,” he said. My first knee jerk reaction was to get angry with him until I saw the smile on his face.
“You don’t load the dishwasher correctly, anyway,” I told him.
He was silent for a few moments, then said, carefully, “Is it really that important how the dishes go into the dishwasher?”
I looked at him for long moments before I said, “No, not really.”
“Maybe we should listen to Matt and Barbara. Maybe,” he said, “We need to get to know each other, all over again.”
I held my hand out to him and said, “Hi, my name is Anne.”
“Chris Archer,” he said as he shook my hand. He held onto it and didn’t let go. “It’s very nice to meet you, Anne,” he whispered. He kissed my lips, slowly and softly. Then, as I felt the panic rise in me again, Chris said, “Sleep well, Anne Archer.” He released my hand, reached up to turn off the light and turned onto his side. Just like he always slept. How odd to be so familiar with him and to feel like I was in bed with a total stranger. Of its own accord, my hand snaked over his belly as I spooned him from behind. Just like it always did. Habit. Chris grabbed onto it. Out of habit. Soon, he snored. Just like always.