Weigh My Bed Down
“Are you sleeping with your bike again?” John asked. It was true that I was. We were having coffee. It was the first time I had left the house that week. But it was only Monday, so really, not too bad.
“No,” I said, “I fell down some stairs the other day and hit my cheek on the rail.” There were several scratches on my face that I had tried to clean up, but how much can you really hide cuts on your face? I tend to be a pretty wiggly sleeper, and somehow my face ended up by the front derailleur sometime during the night. You think it would have woken me up, but I also tend to be a pretty heavy sleeper, which is why it works out for me — sleeping with my bike that is.
“You fell down some stairs?” John raised his eyebrows. He didn’t believe me and I knew it. “I don’t believe you.”
“O.K. fine, yes, my bicycle slept in my bed last night, but I don’t like it when you ask if I’m sleeping with my bike, it sounds weird.”
“That’s because it is weird,” John answered. John has a mustache. He’s twenty eight and has a mustache, so I really don’t think he has any right to say what is or is not weird. My father also has a mustache, but he’s fifty-eight, and that makes a really big difference.
“It’s really not. My new apartment is like 200 square feet and my bed takes up the entire place. So, it’s put my bike in my bed or trip over it when I get up in the middle of the night to pee.”
“Do you put lube on it?”
“Shut up, John. But yeah, of course, but only sometimes, and only in the morning, otherwise it’s too messy.”
“Liz, this is ridiculous. Your sheets have to be a mess.”
John and I had dated for over a year. This was before he had the mustache. It was a mistake that we were trying not to talk about (the dating that is, not the mustache, though arguably both were mistakes). “It’s not like you’re over needing the bed space, so I don’t see why not,” I replied (well, I guess it was a mistake he was trying not to talk about.) “And even if you were,” I continued, “you couldn’t sleep with me because I don’t think you’re doing enough for the environment.”
I partially thought this. It’s not the reason I slept with my bike, but John does drive a big truck and throws his empty beer bottles in the garbage. And the recycling is always right there, right next to the garbage. I’m sure there is a law of physics that could illustrate to him that it takes the same amount of energy to put the bottle in the recycling as it does the garbage. We used to fight about this a lot. I can see no good explanation for not recycling, I really can’t.
“I’m just glad that Greenpeace got to you first,” John answered. I had come home one day after talking to a woman from Greenpeace and went on an environmental rampage, that’s what John was talking about. She had cornered me outside the library and we ended up talking for hours about drilling and baby seals and whales and toxic air qualities. I was so traumatized by it that I came home and pretty much flipped out for two days — I’m serious, I bought hemp clothing and everything. “I mean, you talk to them and end up sleeping with your bike,” He continued, “I’m just glad that ‘Save the Children’ never got to you. I’d hate to see what you’d end up in bed with”
I stifled a smile. John is funny. Both funny humorous and funny strange. His sense of humor is so random and so absurd, and comes out so effortlessly that it is difficult not to be attracted to him. I like people who make me laugh. And then there was his crooked smile, and the way he talked and dreamed about life; and everything about him felt wildly romantic. And aloof. And beautiful. It was irresistible. But then there were also the nights that he wouldn’t come home. I’d sit up and wait for him until two, three, four in the morning before finally falling asleep. He’d walk in the door around eight or nine with no explanation of where he’d been or why he hadn’t called. I hated it. He used to tell me that sometimes he just liked to be by himself and just walk around town. But all night? And with no call? I didn’t understand, and still have no idea if he was cheating on me or not. But then again, I never wanted to know. It’s like that weird shaped mole on your back that you should see the doctor about, but you never do, because you just don’t want to know.
And that’s actually when I started sleeping with other things. He hadn’t come home one night so I got up and filled his side of the bed with books. He crept in at around eight-thirty that morning and landed on a pile of Hemingways and Bukowskis. He went and slept on the couch. The next morning I casually told him that I found books to be stimulating while I sipped on coffee and read the paper. The next time it was paint brushes and craft supplies. Eventually I moved on to pots and pans, the microwave and toaster oven, clothes hangers and old electronics. Finally I settled on the bike. It was my favorite. I don’t like sleeping in my bed alone. You get kind of used to another weight being there, and well, my bike has a nice weight.
John spent more and more nights away. And then one day he was gone completely.
“Look at you Liz,” he reached over with a napkin and dabbed at the scratch on my cheek. I flinched. I don’t like it when ex’s show affection. Coffee is fine, but I don’t like affection. It confuses me. He didn’t take his hand back, though. He just kind of left it there, on my cheek. His hand started to feel good, and I didn’t move.
“Can I come over tonight?” He asked softly. I wanted to say no, that I’m fine on my own, just me and my bike, but I didn’t. I nodded yes. He smiled and took his hand back. He really is beautiful. And so confident. Son of a bitch.
“But you have to shave off your mustache first,” I said. I had to have some principals. John finished his coffee and got up to leave.
“Alright, I’ll get rid of my mustache if you wash off yours.” He was still smiling and handed me a napkin. I wiped my mouth — what was this, bike grease? How did I miss bike grease being on my face?
God I hate myself.
| COPYRIGHT 2006-2011
Portland Fiction Project
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED