The Cedarville Review 2021

23 | CEDARVILLE REVIEW She started sleeping on the couch. We fall asleep together. She scoots to the far end of the bed and whispers a goodnight almost like she doesn’t want me to hear. She has figured out the breathing patterns of an REM cycle sleeper, making me believe she is asleep, keeping me from moving closer or feeling a bit of the warmth she exudes. The bed is always cold in the morning on her side. The blanket and indented pillow on our green velvet couch give her away even though she tries her best to show she has been working on her computer since five am. I know it’s a lie, but I don’t intrude. I try to keep her with me as best I can. One night I caught her sleeping with her car keys in her hand. I wanted so badly to shake her awake and ask if she was leaving me—but I let her be. I needed to keep her close, but the more I try the more she locks the bathroom door when she showers, leaves the dishes perfectly washed and put away after every meal, erasing every trace of her, keeping me from doing anything kind to her, keeping her from owing me something. I have never been a spiteful person, but I removed the lock from her office. I stopped believing her reasoning for locking the door had been planning a surprise trip for us—it’s been four years since that lie has been told, but I let her keep locking the door. I want to move back home. Despite my alcoholic mother who tries to add a third addition onto my childhood home for me and my wife to move into every time I mention New Jersey, I want to be there. Not there—as in their house, but close. Far enough that you can’t walk to the house, hoping my mother’s fear of driving even a short distance outweighs her desire to see me and my wife. She loved New Jersey. I can still remember the way she pressed her hands up against the windows of the car when we passed by bodies of water—whether the Mullica River, the Atlantic Ocean, or Keyport Waterfront her reaction was always the same. A childlike love for the water I never saw anyone else have. One spring day we sat pointing at sailboats and watching hovercrafts zoom across the water entertaining children all down the pier when she said, “you know why I think I like the water?” She didn’t wait for my guess, “It’s because its always consistent, always waiting for me when I come back. The only thing that changes is the amount of sharks reported or the seaweed index for that season.” I still remember moments like this when she opened a piece of her life to me. On the way home from Shoprite lost on County road 542 as she cried to me about her mom being prone to Alzheimer’s, or when she told me how much she hated change, leaving her friends in Ohio, or moving away from her family. Her free spirit misled me into believing she really did want to move to Newport, Connecticut, to pursue a career at a publishing company. I believed her and I regret it. With every new, unlocked memory, or traumatic nightmare, how she wanted to earn her dad’s love and believe that she did not have to give the most in every friendship—with every story she shared I swore I was getting to the bottom, away from what she warned me against, the walls, the barriers, the demons that kept her heart so tightly locked. I failed to listen, I failed to understand and now I’m asking her to move back home and I find her sleeping next to the front door and showering at the gym and eating from plastic silverware that can be swept up and discarded in a moment. And the water, the river, the ocean that was a consistent force is now an element of fear, a fear that somehow it has changed, that it won’t be the same when she comes back. As she chops and discards brussel sprouts