She says his name in her sleep. It is how I find out I am not the only one.
I am almost sure it has never happened before. I have loved her for 15 years now. 1 year while we courted and 14 years since we walked down the aisle. I have watched her sleep the many nights my insomnia got the best of me. But I have never heard her talk in her sleep. Not even once.
I have had insomnia since I was a teenager. The doctors told my parents it was a rite of passage, something to do with my rapidly changing body and mind. They were wrong. I outgrew adolescence but the sleepless nights stayed.
The first time we made love, she had fallen asleep immediately. At first it had hurt my feelings but I had soon learned to take her slumber as a compliment.
“You have satiated me, Ranti. When we make love, it feels like there is nothing else to accomplish. I have been loved and I have loved in return.It is a full stop. ”
Her words are a tool she wields best in loving me.
Morning takes forever to come when you know even the sun won’t be enough to drive away the impending clouds that have settled over your life.
I am making her breakfast when I feel her arms wrap me from behind.
“Good morning,” I say.
“Morning,” She whispers against my back, before lifting herself to sit on the kitchen island from where she can see my face. She is wearing the white shirt I took off last night, swinging her legs back and forth and I am amazed that even as a 37 year old woman, she is still so much the girl I married.
“You didn’t get any sleep last night, did you?”
I do not answer. She already has her answers from my reddened sleep deprived eyes.
“Why didn’t you take your pills?” She asks, watching my face like it is a treasure chest with secrets she can’t wait to discover. But the truth is that she has all my secrets, even the ones I don’t know.
“I wanted to watch you sleep.” I am taken aback at the blush that rises up her neck into her face. Fifteen years on and I can still make her blush. Another man’s name on her lips and I can still make her blush. Suddenly I feel dizzy from all the emotions running wild. I grab the edges of the table she is sitting and bow my head.
“Baby, what’s wrong? This is more than not getting enough sleep. Look at how your hands are trembling. Are you okay…”
There is a roar in my ears from a rush of blood to my head.
“Who is Isaiah?” I interrupt.
She stops talking then. There is surprise on her face and it causes me to bow my eyes again. I find that I am ashamed, ashamed to have found out that I am not enough for the one who is more than enough for me.
She gets up from the table and sets her feet solidly on the ground. The first time I met her, I marveled at how someone so small could be so solid. I knew immediately that I had found my anchor, something to hold me to earth the days when all I wanted to do was disappear.
“I wanted to tell you…”
“When Arese? When exactly were you planning to tell me?” I interrupt again. I have raised my head to watch her make her way to the coat closet in the living room and thenback to me. She is holding her notebook, the one even I am not allowed to read.
My hands are trembling. There is anger, there is envy, but most of all there is sorrow.
She lifts her small frame off the ground and settles on the table she just vacated, opening her legs so she can wrap them around my torso.
Something is not right. She couldn’t be cheating on me and still be this flippant, this loving. I already know I was wrong. I have known it since she spoke the name in her sleep. Some things are mutually exclusive; Arese and evil together is one of those things.
Wedged between the pages of the note book is an envelope. She takes it out and hands it to me.
“What is this Arese?” I ask.
“Nkan tanwa…’She tells me in a language she learned for me. “The thing we have been looking for…”
My hands are trembling as I read. The roar in my ears is louder now.
We stopped trying a long time ago. After countless surgeries and procedures on the both of us. After a seven month separation that felt like a million years. After we had given away all the evidence of our faith. After we had turned the nursery into a guest room for nieces and nephews.
“Isaiah?” I say because there is nothing else to say. I had stopped reading the Bible altogether about the time we stopped trying.
“We can pick something else. It is just you know how Isaiah was your favorite prophet…”
“Prophetess…” I say, hushing her because I remember. “And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz”
“Yeah,” She says smiling, “I didn’t think that Maher something something name would fly for a child in this century…”
“Why didn’t you tell me last night?”
“I wanted to wait for the sun…It just felt right to wait for the sun to rise to tell you.”
We are positioned for love and so we love with no words. When we climax, there is one name on both our lips and it belongs to neither of us. It is Saturday so we both fall asleep on the shaggy rug in the living room.
When I awaken, the sun is fully risen. She is still here, Isaiah is still here but those demons that once had my sleep, none of them is anywhere to be found.
Song of the day: Larue Howard – Great I Am