The furnace kicks on and I listen to the synthetic heat tick through the ceiling above and I am so frustrated that it's already that cold outside. My blankets are heavy and thick and I'm tucked up beneath them but I'm not warm and the thought of stepping on the concrete floor of the wood room to fetch a log for the fire is painful....so I lay here and I don't move so that this one spot warms with my body - because to move is to find new chill. I think about movies. I think about that coffee I had at eight o'clock. I think about how Joan Rivers is probably the meanest person in the world.
The verge of sleep is like a lip I hang over, feeling the drifting but not yet falling....
The furnace ticks. The ghosts whisper. The walls groan. Vines tickle the basement windows. Who would ever marry a musician when it means you have to share a cold Friday night bed with a vacant side?
I hear feet. Shuffling. Short-strided. They're above me. Cupboards open. They slam shut. A chair pulls out. It is pushed back in. Shuffling. Another door. Is that the fridge? Lost wandering. Into the living room. Back up into the kitchen. To the back door. Back to the living room. I can follow the map of this movement across the ceiling as this midnight nomad traipses across my midnight attempts at dreaming.
Shuffling down to the piano. Stillness. Hush. The furnace ticks. AN AGGRESSIVE POUNDING OF WHITES AND BLACKS!!! Full palms have fallen upon the keys, billowing through the house with powerful vibrato, from low to high and back again - harsh notes dissonant when all I want is a lullaby.
I am braced for a spirit - a dark man in top hat at the ivories, hung there against my already dreaming eyelids. But no. It is only a Liam. And I am awake. He stands there, hands fallen to his side while his last notes disappear into darkness.
He sways. His head bobs. He is a Liam zombie. He turns towards me. Whimpers. "I am so cold." And his voice is hung with tears and sleep.
I gather him and he has forgotten how to embrace and I lead him gently to his bed and tuck his blanket tight and kiss his eyes, now tight closed, good night.
And when I crawl back into bed, all that warmth I poured out is sucked clean and I shiver and shake and the furnace ticks.