The Sweetest Dream

Submitted into Contest #138 in response to: Write about a character who doesn’t want to go to sleep.... view prompt

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Fiction LGBTQ+ Sad

It's three o'clock in the morning and I'm awake. The window is open and the crickets are chirping, keeping time with my disjointed thoughts. Summer breeze blows in through the screen and I kick the blanket off my feet, wiggling my toes against the balm of mid July.

You snore when you sleep.

I’ve known this almost as long as I’ve known you, which is almost as long as I’ve known myself. You don't pretend it isn't true, and I love you for it. I love you for all the bad habits you wear on your sleeve so proudly; stress smoking, nail biting, cursing like a sailor, chewing with your mouth open so wide that everyone in a twenty foot radius knows exactly what you're having for dinner. I love you as much for your vices as I do for your virtues. Maybe even more. 

You're snoring now. I can feel your breath, warm on the back of my neck. Your knees are jammed up into the backs of my thighs. Midnight had come and gone before you finally managed to fall asleep. The air still smells like ash and nicotine. You bit your nails so far down that you tasted blood. 

Your dress is laid out at the end of your bed; lacy, snow white, fitted and fit for a princess. You say your hips are slightly too wide for it, I say the dress is slightly too small for your hips. Your dinner sat untouched on your plate tonight, your mouth closed except to chew off your manicure. You blame the stress; I blame the dress.

My dress is laid out too, soft sage green and haltered, understated as it should be. It's your day, after all, not mine. I’m just the maid. I get to stand near you, yes, but not as near as I’d like. 

Never as near as I’d like.

Your breath hitches; mine stops. You snore a little louder. I shuffle away from you as much as your double mattress will allow, sit up against the headboard, reach for the half empty carton of cigarettes you left on the nightstand. 

It tastes like poison, which feels fitting. I inhale, the cherry glows orange in the darkness and I can pretend that the hours and minutes and seconds aren't ticking down to the worst day of my life. I can pretend, almost, that you will stay here forever, suspended in time, in this liminal space between me and him. 

Does he know you snore? He must. Maybe he thinks it’s cute. 

Does he know you kissed me at a party when we were seventeen? Drunk on vodka coolers and a nascent sense of adulthood? He must. You're wearing his ring. You promised him your life, warts and all.

Maybe he thinks it's cute. Maybe the two of you laugh about it sometimes, a funny little anecdote you pull out on the rare occasion the memory strikes. 

Or maybe you haven’t told him. Maybe you forgot a long time ago. I can't decide which is worse. 

I take a drag, deep, too deep, coughing and spluttering as tar and smoke and god knows what else fills my lungs. I drop the burning butt into the glass of water on the nightstand, but it's too late.

“Hey you,” comes your sleep-muffled voice from beside me, and the cigarette fizzles out while I try to quell the panic that has my heart racing. 

“Hey yourself.”

“Are you smoking?”


“What time is it?”

“Time for you to go back to sleep.”

You reach out and pinch my leg. “Bitch.”

“Seriously,” I say, a little bit softer, my eyes trying to focus on the shape of your face in the darkness. “It's late, and tomorrow’s a big day. You need sleep.”

“Seriously,” you say back, mocking. “What's going on?”

I can't bring myself to say it's nothing. I love that you care. I love the way bitch sounds like an endearment when it's your mouth that says it. 

So I tell the only truth I'm willing to part with. “Can't sleep.”

“Come here,” you say, exasperated even in half consciousness, pulling me down. I melt into the sheets and we're lying side by side, so close our noses almost touch. Your hand finds mine under the covers and I die a little. Your ring is cold and sharp. 

“Are you nervous about tomorrow?” I ask.

You pause, for effect. “Are you?”

“Not my day.”

“And yet you're the one who’s still awake.”

I shrug. It's all I can give you. The truth doesn't get easier to tell just because I want it to. It lives in my head, my chest, between my legs and everywhere in between. It oxygenates the blood that pumps through my veins. It's mine, inextricably, woven into the fabric of my being. Mine, and no one else’s. Not even yours. 

“I'm fine. Just can't sleep.”

You press your lips to my forehead. “Nothing’s going to change, you know.” Your voice is a whisper, inviting me in. “I promise.”

I could open a vein and let the truth bleed out. I could do it, right now, in the dark. We could pretend it's just a dream.

“You’ll always be my best friend.”

Are you the person I think you are if you don't understand the choked laugh that barks itself out from the back of my traitorous throat? 

I push you away in a convincing show of playful annoyance. “I'm not that obsessed with you, but thanks.”

You laugh and say “fuck you” and I know it doesn't matter what I think or who you are. My heart will beat for you anyway. 

You turn around, putting your back between us, then say, “I'm nervous.”

“You’ll be fine,” I say.

You will be.

“I’ll be there,” I say.

I will be.

You reach back and squeeze my hip before you go quiet. 

I wait.

“I'll be fine,” I say. I almost believe it. 

You don't answer. You've already started snoring. 

March 25, 2022 17:15

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1 comment

Sim K
05:20 Mar 31, 2022

This was such a beautiful read, i loved every detail.


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