It was stronger than myself tonight, the urge. Like gravity I was drawn to you. I hesitated outside your door, listening, my breathing shallow as my heart began to race. I could hear you stirring, restless. The door creaked, as it always does, but it didn't bother me tonight. You startled and fixed your gaze on me as I stumbled in the dark, my eyes taking too long to adjust.
I lay down beside you and you pulled your little body closer, folding into my creases like we were puzzle pieces, and I felt whole in a way I haven't since you were inside me. Two bowls of smooth round wood stacked neatly underneath my taut belly, the texture of the weathered wood grain stretched in marks across my skin. We were one then, more than whole the three of us together. I had purpose and my future was straightforward.
Then you came and my belly hung loose in folds where we once were joined. Our holy trinity was broken and I was left cold and shamed on the manger floor, surrounded by hay and donkeys and in desperate need of frankincense and myrrh. I fumbled in the dark then, too, relying too heavily on my senses to try to find you. I thought I had lost you and assumed it was forever.
Tonight I see that I was wrong. You have been there all along.
You search for my hand and find it without looking. Your legs twitch a little as you drowse and your tongue clicks as it searches for my breast. Alas, in vain. You are already sleeping and I'm already too far gone as I feel your tiny chest rise and fall pressed against my body.
My eyes have adjusted now and I examine you in the waning light. I study your features; your brow, your fluttering eyelids, the curve of your nose, your parted lips, the way your hair falls across your forehead, and I bury my face in your neck, taking all of you in. You smell of wood. Of course you do. And sweat. And something warm but faintly sweet like cinnamon.
I close my eyes and trace my finger down your face like a map, trying desperately to find my way; would I be lost without you?
I wipe a tear (mine, not yours) from the hollow above your collarbone and breathe that shaky breath that comes soon after the sobbing has subsided. You exhale, too, and I wonder if we are not still more connected than I give us credit for.
It's too much, the love. The last time I opened up this much, you came barreling out of me. I thought that was the happy ending but something else got in instead. It buried itself deep under the surface and I closed myself off, thinking in was the way out. But there you are, so peaceful in your slumber and suddenly I'm split open like an oyster, both halves pulsing and I realize I've had it backwards all this time. I thought I was all shell, but somehow it got under my skin. It's calcified in concentric layers and I've never felt so baroque.
All this time I thought I had become small and calloused; I have watched from a distance as I fold in on myself again and again like an origami heart. The truth is, I have become small and calloused. But tonight I see that it's you, the oyster and I'm the wild pearl. I'm so sorry to have put you through so much trauma and all for a grain of sand. I've let myself out now. Now we can all heal, together but separate. Distance is good for all of us, I think. I was you and now you're me and I watch us becoming something so different than anything I've ever known and it's excruciating to love an extension of you so much more than you've ever loved yourself.
I kiss your chin and touch your cheek and tell you I love you and then I'm gone.