She was asleep, and he was not. He slid out of bed by imagining himself a snake sliding out of its skin or some unexpected gift being slipped out of its package without disturbing the wrapping, leaving it for another’s use, her use. She was a frequently proclaimed light sleeper, and he didn’t want to wake her.
He had imagined his extrication from the marital bed for several minutes before actually attempting it: the slow straightening of his curled body, easing his long torso to the cold edge of the bed, away from her coiled body and out-flung arm. He rested on the edge of the mattress for a full minute before beginning the peel of sheet, blanket, comforter—more a lifting than a peel really, just enough so he could slide one bare foot out, touching the floor, the body following, one knee hitting the bedstead hard enough that he would have cried out if he hadn’t been so perfectly controlled.
He knelt briefly on the mat beside the bed—he’d wanted carpet, wall to wall, so pleasant to step out on on a winter night, he’d said. She wanted the hard wood floors, loved the naturalness, she said, and the rattan mat, also natural, much more aesthetic than the plush rug he’d bought at Walmart.
Don’t need it. Don’t want it, she said, and it disappeared.
He was out now, straightening up, reaching for his robe which was allowed to be draped over the chair at night—in a darkened room—their eyes were closed, nobody to see it, he’d said. She’d eventually agreed.
No slippers—they flopped and slapped on the floor. He was in the hall now, then down the stairs to the kitchen.
An hour later he took a picture of the gaping bread bag, the crumbs on the tile, the smear of jam on the sink, the misfolded newspaper, the coffee grounds on the counter, the debris of an hour of normal life, took the picture with his phone, slipped it in his robe pocket and cleaned up, smiling, imagining his re-entry, the re-sliding he called it—into the matrimonial bed—her none the wiser, he content.
© 2012 Kathleen Coskran