Sometimes, I read to him. He curls up in bed, I read to him, a bedtime story, to put him to sleep. He shifts now and then, distracting me from the words on the page, he listens and drifts off and tries not to drift off because he wants to hear my voice, doesn’t want to let go, doesn’t want to leave me.
I read to him from a horrible book where the author seems to be so concerned with her own use of language that irrelevant flowery phrases confuse the story and make me hate her, but it is fun to read the ridiculous prose. As I read, I come across snippets of German, which I stumble through, awkwardly. I manage to get to the paragraph’s end, but I can’t help laughing softly to myself at my terrible attempt at both the pronunciation and the accent. He starts giggling in bed, which makes me laugh harder.
“Sssshhh… you are supposed to be falling asleep!”
He laughs out loud now. “You did very well, Ma’am!”
We laugh at the silliness, he is nearly fully awake now.
“Shhhh now, sleep!” I tell him primly.
He chuckles some more. “Yes, Ma’am…” He settles down again and I keep reading.
I read to him still hoping that it will be a wonderful novel. We have both just started it, only reading it when together, one of our voices in the other’s ear. He is tired, tired and I read. His breathing deepens, a regular metronome of quiet stillness. I read softly and it is sad, heartbreaking and powerful. She is 44, she is dead, she leaves behind her younger lover. He thinks of her apartment… full of food that she will never eat, clothes she will never wear, books she will never read, chairs she will never sit in again. It breaks my heart.
I stumble over words because the catch in my throat interrupts me, he stirs immediately.
“Oh, are you okay? It’s okay sweetheart…shhhh… you can stop, it’s okay”.
I sniff, feel a little silly.
“It’s just so sad…” I say unnecessarily.
He is awake now, concerned and soothing me.
“I’m okay, really… no, I want to go on reading…”
He finally acquiesces and snuggles back down into bed. I continue reading, trying to stop from being too affected, I am not sure why I am letting it in like this, sometimes I allow it, welcome it, but this time the emotion crept in without me even opening the door. I continue reading about the lover left behind, he is lost, he doesn’t know what to do, he finally goes to her empty apartment, takes off all of his clothes, crawls into her bed, and falls asleep waiting for her to come to him.
I start to cry, my boy will not be sleeping for a little while now.