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Kerith Mickelson [Creative Nonfiction]

Thank you, Space

 

Should I attack my husband?

 

Nah. I can spend a few moments with myself in this space--behind the locked door--before I take a shower and get ready for bed. Sophie’s away at college, and there’s a mirror that rests against the wall, and I’m not wearing much. My fingers tickle along the bottom edge of my belly button and flirt with the loose elastic waistband of my favorite sweatpants. They dip in. Find no undies, only softness. I allow my middle finger to rest on my clitoris and feel the rising hardness and heat--when I hear him coming down the hall.

 

His ankle cracks outside the door. He hums his favorite Josh Ritter tune. From the little bathroom off our bedroom, the toilet flushes. Electric toothbrush buzzes.

 

My finger pauses. The TV drones from Amelia’s room, and I know she’ll come down to the hall bathroom soon to take her own shower.

My husband’s singing voice hits a wrong note. I smile. Right now, I’d love to be with him, but I know he’s tired. It’s kind of nice to stay here in this safe, oh-so-pleasing space. I can’t decide.

No, I know what I want. I won’t be hemmed in.

 

I creep into our room.

 

Usually modest, tonight he wears no shirt standing in front of the bathroom mirror. I slip behind him and slide my hand onto his belly, pulling myself tenderly against his back. I can’t stop myself. The palms of my hands rub warm all over his chest, his hips, his arms. His eyes widen. He drops the dental floss. Maneuvers around and wraps his freckled arms around me tightly. His light eyes turn dark blue, gazing sweetly down at me.

 

We giggle, lock our bedroom door, and bolt for the bed.

 

When Amelia comes down the hall, her ankles cracking, we get quiet. But our eyes aren’t.

 

Thank you for always saying yes--to anything I want to do. Thank you for always surprising me with lightheartedness after you’ve been in back-to-back meetings all day without leaving your little home office. Thank you for feeding the dogs. Playing tug with the dogs. Loving the dogs. For doing the dishes every morning before you start work. For taking Amelia on a college trip. For paying the college bills and all the other bills and for hugging me whenever I command it. Thanks for cheap and cheerful dates at Via de los Santos whenever we feel like chips and cheese and margaritas. Thank you for sometimes splitting one more. Thank you for serious conversations on road trips about our kids’ futures and time and relativity. Thank you for explaining quantum physics a hundred times. Thank you for five-hour-long museum excursions then pointing out that we always forget what we learned about Ancient Egypt or Sue the dinosaur.

 

And our bodies say the other things. They say, oh my God, thank you tingling, thank you circulation, thank you strength, beating heart, thank you confidence, thank you openness. Thank you aging--

 

That there be no more procreation, but instead deep consolation. And wide, welcoming space.

 

Later, Alexa agrees to wake us up tomorrow, and within seconds, David’s asleep safe on his side of the bed. My body buzzes, but my mind and heart are one. There is only stillness and great space, and I feel holy and connected and whole.

Kerith Mickelson lives with her partner, three surly teens and three mangy pets. When she’s not teaching her junior English classes how to be happy at her old high school, she's guiding Qigong and energy meditation classes for her faculty or teaching herself how to skateboard—not for tricks, but for balance.​

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