He woke up chuckling. It was a weekend morning, and he didn't want to wake up his wife, so he tried to quiet himself.
She uttered, "Hm?" and went back to sleep.
He rose from bed, and checked on his son. Both of the dogs slept beneath him, fulfilling their mission to keep watch over Their Boy.
He walked outside, shirtless, into the pre-dawn darkness, feeling the delicious hint of autumn in the night air.
It was a funny dream. It was a dream about another woman, one from his past. He'd known her since kindergarten, but they'd become lovers in their thirties, after the death of his dad. She'd offered a balm over his grief, and the frenzy of their lovemaking would eclipse his sorrow, a sorrow that would further languish in the tenderness of the after.
But it wasn't the way their bodies slid across each other, lubricated by sweat, that filled his dream. It wasn't the way she would breathe, or the sound of their loins colliding, or the expression on her face as she reached that special place, or the way he'd snake his arms beneath her and squeeze as his time came.
No, it was the after. In the dream, he was on top of her, spent, covered in sweat, his arms still between her back and the mattress. He was drifting off to sleep, wilting inside of her.
Her grunts of discomfort brought him to.
"Sorry," he said, and rolled to the mattress.
"It's okay," she said. "I like it until I can't breathe. And by the way, I was just faking the rest of it."
"Good," he answered. "Please continue."
They both chuckled.
In the dark, out in the driveway, the better part of two decades later, he chuckled again.
He thought of one of the hardest nights of his life. It was the night he told her of meeting the love of his life again. The look on her face just before she started crying had haunted him over the years. He'd harbored a childlike hope that they would end gently, but instead, the end came with a brutal velocity.
He stood in the dark, looking at the first hint of dawn over the ridge. He thought of other things too: meals they'd shared, places they'd been, gatherings with friends. He thought of how he'd heard from her for the first time in nearly sixteen years, and how she'd offered the gift of forgiveness.
"I don't hate you anymore," she'd written.
He stopped at the steps, a lump in his throat. He was grateful that he could think back to those times and smile without guilt hazing his memories. Now he could call her a friend again. Now, once more, she was in his present.
He smiled for the dawn, and for himself.
He walked back to the house, hoping his wife and son would wake soon. He was in the mood to take them to breakfast.
Prompted by Thom G's Three Word Wednesday of September 23, 2009. The words are eclipse, languish, and velocity.