By the Bedside - Michael
I love her like this the most.
Curled up in bed covered in my sheets, her soft face tender on the pillowcases, and her mouth gently cooing as she sleeps. As usual she left her uniform in a neat pile on the chair by the bed. I find it amusing how she always finds time for the little things during these quick moments we steal from the world. I run my hand through her bare legs, careful not to wake her. She is bright by the moonlight, her glow reflected off the large glass panes of the window. I no longer sleep. I don't know if she figured that out by now, she has learned not to ask questions she would not like answers to. It is safer that way, I guess. Like walking on a tightrope with a safety net. As long as I keep an arm's length distance between her and my real truth, we can continue to pretend. Pretend to eke out this romantic existence that would be so wrong on her world, and even more dangerous in mine.
The place I keep near the university is the highest room in the tower condominium. It keeps visitors to a minimum. This master bedroom holds the bed, a study table, and a sala set with a couch and two divans. A lone painting hangs on the wall by the table. It is much older than her, and just a bit older than I am. She only gets to see this part of the place. The other room is kept locked at all times. Again, she does not ask about it. And I am grateful for that also. The elevator from the lobby to my floor opens right in front of the door to my penthouse, and she goes straight to the bedroom every time. There are no other tenants on this floor as I rented out the other 3 spaces myself to ensure my privacy. She asks no questions about that as well.
“Sir?” Sarah mumbled.
I don’t know if I should find it odd that she still calls me sir even during these moments. How would I feel if she calls me by my first name instead? Like all the other questions inside my head, I compartmentalize them and leave them there.
“Yes, Sarah?” I answered.
Sarah got up. Holding the bedsheet across her bare body. Standing by the window bathed in starlight, she was more beautiful than ever. Her short hair was tussled after an hour of sleep. Her eyes were half-slits as she rubbed them. Sarah had a small and gentle face. One that was both inquisitive and kind at the same time. Her long legs took two quick strides to get to me and she landed in my arms. Her face buried in my chest.
“I’m hungry. You should take care of me better. What have you got to eat?” Sarah asked with a sheepish grin.
I replied with a smile on my face, she gets even more lovely when she is playful. “I bought fresh grapes this morning. Seedless green grapes. Your favorite.”
She pranced towards the refrigerator and opened the cooler. Grapes in hand, she sat on the nearby divan, crossed her legs, and plucked the grapes one by one. My sheets still wrapped around her body.
I took a full minute to just stare at her. Still, I have no idea how we actually got here. It’s been 3 months since she first walked into my classroom. And almost 100 years since I decided to be close to someone like this again. No matter which way you look at it, this can only end tragically.
She unfurled the sheet and let it fall to the floor, a pair of grapes in hand and nothing else on her. I slowly made my way toward her.
“Give me some of that dear.”