Three Mile Gap

by Sue Simpson

Chain Border

If I turned my head, I'd be able to see you, a mere pinprick on the opposite bank. Three miles of cotton white horses separate us, and yet I can hear your breath. Each inhalation screaming hurt injustice. I still feel your heartbeat, even though the sheets are carefully arranged so that no body part touches and your back is not speaking to mine.

How many hours have I lain here, curled foetally against the tide of indifference that flows from you? I don't know, but dawn is filtering strawberry light through the chink in the curtains and she brings more frost.

My knees are cold, they hang over the edge, and my back is strained with the effort of not taking more than my self-allocated three inches of bed space.

And still we lie, each in our own cocoon of hurt pride.

I refuse to cry, I'm far too angry for that, but the merest hint of warmth from you would send the held tears over the rim. I long for your touch.

You stir in your sleep, make that strangulated snoring sound that would send any sow looking for her hurt offspring, and fart loudly. Despite the distance between us, I feel the ripples against my thigh. When I yearned for your warmth this was not quite what I had in mind.

You roll over; an arm unnaturally heavy with lingering sleep flings itself round me, and your sleeping hand cups my breast, not out of any sexual desire, just because that is where it finds comfort. Your breath is warm against my back. Your lips brush dryly against my shoulder; the murmured breath grates along my skin with early morning aridity.

"Morning Babe. What's the matter?"

You have no idea.

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