4:40 a.m. I spoke to his back: “I need you to love me.”
I heard the exhalation that meant he was instantly awake and smiling. He turned onto his back and pulled me to his chest.
“I’m down,” I said.
“I don’t know if there’s a reason.” Pause. “I can feel myself pulling away.”
“From your friendship?”
“Do you mean it’s something you’re actively doing, not that he’s drifting away?”
“It’s me. But I’m pretty sure it’s not voluntary. I guess it’s some defense mechanism, and stupid things trip it.”
“That must feel kind of scary.”
I turned onto my back, looking up at the proportionally placed glowing planets on the ceiling. “Yeah. And it’s really sad.”
“It’s not surprising though. This is completely new for you. It’s way beyond anything you ever thought could be your comfort zone. Well, I don’t think he’s going to let you pull away. And I won’t let you either.” He gave me a Peter Cetera look. “I am a Joe who will fight for your friendship.”
I looked at him and hugged him hard around the shoulders. “You’re so nice.”
“I’m in love with you. And I want you to be happy. So, so happy. And I think this is good for you. I’ve felt hopeful.”
“You’ve seemed lighter, not so prone to darkness. Your friend can’t cure it, but I think he’s a good long-term treatment.”
He left the room and came back with his Diet Pepsi and Fruit Loops. “I’m going to eat breakfast and sit here with you, tickling you or whatever you want.”
The smile glowed into the muscles of my face. He read me a brilliant new poem. And I slipped back into sleep.