A Map Of My World
by D.C. Logan
I walk, soft footfalls through the still rooms, and call for him. There is no answer, which disturbs me for a brief moment until I see his shoe, cast against its mate, discarded and abandoned in the hall. He's home.
Curious, and anticipating one of my favorite moments, I quiet my step and peer into the bedroom.
A towel loosely wrapped around his head has slipped enough to the side to reveal his hair, tangled and damp against the pillow. The dark, wet footsteps across the thin carpet tell me that he's been asleep no longer than fifteen minutes or so--but it's an exhausted and dreamless sleep, and he doesn't stir as I move closer to him and sit carefully on the edge of the mattress.
It is only rarely that I have the opportunity to study him like this, in full light, at my own pace and direction. I relish these opportunities, and take great pleasure in prolonging the moments when I have such complete and innocent access to him.
His feet are buried in the rumpled linens; he is obsessive about keeping them under the covers while sleeping, and even in extreme tiredness has made provision to do so. I know without lifting the blanket that the second toe on his left foot has a nail blackened with an unfortunate slip of a large wrench, and that the top of the right foot has a narrow line of recently healed stitches from a dropped glass while in bare feet on a sunny Sunday in the kitchen. I wasn't home when it happened, and walked in to a room smeared liberally with his blood. Not an experience I ever want to repeat if it can be helped.
Moving along the canvas of his skin reveals evidence of his life, before, during, and after the war. I know most of the marks, scars, and remainders of a violent youth, and have been witness to the creation of a number of the more recent additions.
His legs have been spared the brunt of injury--at least the marks that appear on the surface. I know that one knee bends less easily than the other, and that both trouble him when the weather turns cold. He turns into warmth more than I do--or indeed anyone of my acquaintance. In the small hours of the night, he will shift and turn and align his oddly cool body along my own, thieving my heat from me. If I shift from him to find a more comfortable position, he will move with me--searching out the temperate zone between us with uncanny accuracy. He has more hair on his legs than I do; it tickles in the night sometimes. He chases me to the edge of the bed in the night.
My eyes trace the lean lines of his thighs up to the rude interruption of the blanket draped over his waist. Lucky blanket. His left thigh is dented where a torn muscle didn't heal as well as the clinic thought it should. It doesn't seem to bother him though. He grimaces at me in irritation when I ask him about it.
His back is the closest thing to a map of the man. A bullet scar, some thin white lines from a knife, textured flesh along his ribs from an exposure to fire nearly too close to call, a small tattoo of a Christian cross on the back of his left shoulder, a scythe on his right. 'Left for dead, right for revenge'. But he doesn't talk about those times often. Neither do I, it's safer locked away in the past--behind us, out of memory. He is my only reminder of the days of battle, as am I to him I suppose. We keep the memories alive that are better left for dead. But to not do that would be to deny what we are and who we were then. And without those experiences behind us, to build on, to act as our foundation... well, we wouldn't be where we find ourselves today. The proof of our experiences lies in the map of our skin, stretched tight across our bones, flesh, and memories. Pierced, burned, rent and torn--but now healed and whole.
I know where to touch to make him laugh, where to stroke to raise passion in his eyes, and where to lay the weight of my soul upon him to make him stop, think, and return it back to me tenfold.
His complicated body/skin is a reflection of the path of his life, and reveals to me the map of my world. For that is what he is to me.
I run a callused fingertip across the breadth of his shoulders--testing the deepness of his sleep.
He does not stir, and I leave him to his rest, carrying my precious moment with me as I take my leave of him.