Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Comfort object.

Once upon a time he taught me to juggle. Eggs he stole from a farm. Incentive, he told me, for if I did it just right we'd have scrambled eggs for supper (which I believed) and if I failed, we'd go hungry because the diner was now closed for the night and so was the corner store. Inside the camper we only had half a box of cheese crackers that tasted stale a week ago, two Twinkies and two bottles of beer, scavenged gratefully from another camper that was abandoned when someone we didn't know was taken off to jail and either didn't have time to dispose of his belongings or maybe they didn't belong to him in the first place. There were some interesting and scary people on the Midway but mostly there were people on the run.

You sleep with both eyes closed and I sleep with one eye open, Loch told me when I asked why he was so crabby. I was sure he was going to yell about the five broken eggs and my rumbling stomach. He sleeps on the outside, closest to the door while I sleep pressed against the wall. He sleeps with his arms around my head, or when it's too warm just holding my hand all night so that he can keep track of me in his dreams too.

Today he stretched out with his head in my lap for a short sleep in the sun while I read by the library window. I'm pretty sure he continues his sleeping habits now to weigh me down, to keep track of me in his nightmares, where I stand right out in the open, juggling hearts. But he doesn't have to yell anymore, I've gotten so good at it. I've only broken a few but most of them seemed as if they were easy to repair. Easier than mine. Some break and smash when they hit the ground, some just chip and crack.

My stomach rumbles and I smile. We buy our eggs from a farm just past the other side of the city these days. Ninety-six at a time, stacked in cardboard flats, around once a month or so. I never ask the price, I just hand the farmer's wife forty dollars. It doesn't seem like enough and yet she always seems so happy to see me.

With my bad hand I twirl my fingers in Lochlan's hair, making perfectly even red ringlets. The more curls I make the deeper he sleeps. I wish someone would bring me some crackers or a Twinkie because I don't have the piece of my heart anymore that's okay with waking him up when I need something. I should probably look for it but I'm sure it's long gone. Besides, it's kind of nice to just sit here and watch him sleep.