Until You're Resting Here With Me
i am what i am, i'll do what i want, but i can't hide
i won't go, i won't sleep, i can't breathe
until you're resting here with me
Damn it man, but this house is quiet without you.
Who's to swear when the door bangs on its hinges, who's to sing under his breath while he's doing his chores and thinks nobody can hear him? Who's to whisper to me, early in the morning when the kids are still asleep, voice quiet and urgent and reassuring?
I wonder where you're sleeping tonight. Are you thinking about-- no, that's not a fair question, Racquel Black. The man has enough on his mind without the whining of one lonely woman in the back of beyond.
But holy holies, it's lonely here. The bed warms up without you all right, though it takes a little longer. Don't think about me shivering and sad, 'cause it's not all true. I'm all right. I don't steam up the windows the same way as you do, maybe; my morning coffee alone isn't enough heat. But I'm all right.
Really nobody here but me and the kids-- I left the damn sewing circle back in Etrenank. That's a laugh; I never had very many friends and you know I don't really miss them. Heads up their asses, most of them, not a one of them brave enough to really live.
I don't miss school, not one bit. I was through with it before even my own graduation. But sometimes I remember the way I used to feel, waking up in the morning and wondering just what would happen that day. Only so many paths to walk, there in Jugend, but knowing that any one of them might take me any myriad number of places.
Now I wake up in the morning and just give thanks I'm still alive.
Once, my third year at Jugend, when I thought briefly they'd assign me to the surface, I spent a sleepless night wondering what it would be like to live somewhere other than Solaris. Turns out they assigned Trevelyn instead. I wasn't sad to see her going instead of me. I wonder if she's still here? Said they were going to put her in Nortune, though they never were clear on just what for.
I didn't even know the name of this island, then. I might have thought "Aquvy" was a new sports-drink the scientists had developed.
I have to laugh when I wonder how I wound up here.
You know, I remember the first time I ever heard you speaking-- in the Jugend cafeteria, it was, halfway through the fall semester. You were arguing goodnatured with your roommate at the time, and trying to use your unwrapped spork to prove your point.
I had no idea that you'd smile at me and I'd bear your son and the world would fall down around our ears, or that we'd flee our home and move to the middle of nowhere on a Wednesday, but I did know, listening to you holler and grin and prove you were right (you were right, as I remember), that you were something special.
And I remembering thinking, right out of the sky, that I might fall in love with you. And I said to myself, self, what a ridiculous thought! You're here in school for a reason, and that's to secure a good Gebler position. You're not here to entertain unreasonable fantasies about underclassmen. Certainly not goofy underclassmen with blue, blue eyes and sloppy hair and a smile to rock the aerial foundations of Solaris.
I didn't follow you with my eyes when you both stood and you took your leave of him; I didn't watch you leave and wonder what you sounded like when you were making love. Surely not! I didn't know right then that you'd be loud and full of laughter, and I wasn't scandalized with myself for ever thinking such a thing.
No, not I.
Though I should say it is true that I refrained from following you around. That might have had more to do with my scheduled assignments than my interest, but I will admit that I did do a bit of research to figure out your name.
And oh, what a name. Underclassman Blanche, ranked second in your class at the time, from a family of better standing than my own. Any teacher to whom I mentioned you would smile and shake his head, or purse her lips and try not to grin. Up to no good, as usual, and better at school than any of them. One of your professors assured me in whispered confidences that you'd wind up Gebler commander! Polite disbelief, if I remember correctly, was my response, at the time.
Though it drove me mad with curiosity to know what they all saw in you.
So I danced with you just that once, at your graduation, after we shared that cigarette on the balcony. I wonder how many people just weren't surprised to see it. I never stood a chance, Jessie Black. Just a night at your place, some drinks and that unexpected powerdown. We didn't sleep a bit, did we? Talking till curfew and well after, me wearing your boxers and your button-down shirt too big for me. Sleeping next to you, and I couldn't pretend anymore that I didn't want to touch you.
Wouldn't you know it; boy, your luck is something else. Billy would be scandalized I'm sure-- he's such a good little boy and loves to let me know it. Wouldn't he just gape, all a grown boy, to know his daddy laid his mama on their very first date, and wasn't he just the expedient arrival.
I've never regretted a thing, lovermine. You'd better know that, if you know nothing else. I'd marry you again in a heartbeat, with that second heartbeat fluttering in my stomach or not. I still don't believe my mother didn't ask. I know my daddy would've had it out of your hide, wanting to know just why we were getting married in such a hurry. Well, maybe mama took pity on us, or maybe she understood more than we gave her credit for. I never did ask how I was born.
And then they were going to send you to Bledavik. Waving the Gebler command position under your nose, you with a two year old boy on your knee. They weren't going to let me come with you. It twisted my heart in knots, and I tried to believe I was just being selfish, not wanting to let you go. One miserable week, unsleeping, when I tried to convince us both that it was a good idea: a fitting position for a Blanche, enough income for our own comfort and for my mother's, too.
But you saw right through it-- them writing you neatly out of the country, out of the way. And you saw right through me, too, knowing what I was saying all along was: this isn't right, don't do this, I can't sleep without you.
(Yes, well. I was a younger woman then. And I managed never to say so aloud, didn't I?)
And so you told them no, in no uncertain terms, even though you'd guessed it might bring them against us.
Lord save 'em all, man, I know you made the right decision. I never doubted you.
...The kids miss you. Billy doesn't say so, but I know it, of course I know it. He sulks like you do, lover. Something about his eyes, or the way he deliberately refuses to pout. And I've seen him sneaking into your room and laying his face against your table, crying into the powder-stained wood. I wonder what he would tell you, if you were here, what he would share with you that he doesn't tell me. It's nearly more than I can stand, when Billy is sad, 'cause he won't share it with me and I won't wrangle it out of him if he needs to grieve.
And 'cause I don't know how to tell him I don't know when you'll be coming back, without sounding like I don't know if you'll be coming back.
I don't doubt you, you know that. It's the world I fear, and the people we're running from. Not running, you'd say, if you heard me say that. Not running. But what would you call it? We had to leave the name Blanche behind us, though I'd only worn it for a handful of years. We had to sneak out of town on the 3am transport and pray no one recognized your face. We had to tell Billy not to make a sound. If that's not running, baby, what is?
But I'm glad Primera will never know life in Etrenank-- though I won't say I don't wonder what mom would think of her baby granddaughter. So every time Prim learns something new I pretend I'm seeing the world through her eyes, how things are fresh and bright again, and nearly joyous. Wonderful world, with blueskies and wide grey oceans and trees that you can touch and dirt beneath your feet. Glad for children who won't know any different, who won't feel the power overhead and wonder just where they're going.
Though after all that, I still wonder just where I'm going, don't I? I wonder where you are tonight and I wonder how I'll manage to feed two babies on what supplies we have, the transports are getting fewer and farther between, you know, especially with this rainy season hitting us so hard, and Prim's being allergic to the bearcow milk so I have to pay triple for the special stuff...
Not that any of this would be any easier if you were here. Lord knows these things would drive you up a wall, wouldn't they? Drive you to drink, you'd say. I know you better than that, man; it'd take a hell of a lot more to drive you to hard drinking. I've seen you since your son was born; Sigurd had to try to get you to party like a college boy again, but no, you were a daddy.
Thunderstorm yesterday, biggest one we've had yet; this spring has been a killer. I could almost feel the foundations of the house straining, the winds rattling the windows and ripping all the new leaves off the trees. And so last night this storm found Prim standing at the edge of our bed and looking up at me with this awful expression on her little face. She crawled up next to me without a word. Her hair's so pale, just like yours, you know that? Such a little lady your daughter's becoming; I know you'd be proud. And her head on your pillow looked so familiar, moonpale hair messy against the faded sheets.
I didn't know what to tell her, so I told her the silly stories my mama used to tell me to get me to go to sleep. She didn't laugh, but watched me wide-eyed, playing with my nightshirt, her small hands fisting and unfisting in the fabric. I knew she was scared, but how could I tell her I'd never lived through a storm so fearsome either?
And I wondered how much my mother never knew, either, facing my littlegirl face and unable to tell me she didn't have any idea either. Oh, god, no one ever knows, do they? Maybe she still hugs herself when she goes to sleep and thinks of my daddy long-gone and prays for guidance to the emptiness of the bed beside her. Maybe we're all just hanging on by our fingernails and praying for the best.
And so the biggest crack of thunder you've ever heard had us both giggling petrified and white-knuckling the blankets, and Prim says why isn't Billy here, is Billy brave?
And I smile ruefully and say, I don't think so, baby, maybe Billy's too proud to admit he's scared.
And she says, all by herself, the picture of seriousness, then why don't we two go into his bed?
What to say to that? Such wisdom from such a little girl. So I swallowed hard, and nodded, and tiptoe we did-- two of us silly girls, her hands around my hand and our footsteps unheard under the roar of thunder. Sure enough, Billy was wide awake, pale and staring up at the ceiling. Scared? says his little sister, wiggling into bed next to him and wrapping her arms around him.
No, Billy says, but nobody fell for it.
The next lightning crash lit up the whole house, all of us in negative, jittery with the hum of electricity in the air. But we had to laugh, there together, and I sat on the floor by his teeny bed and the three of us pretended not to be scared one bit. Billy told the story of the children and the bridge, you remember? The one he used to love to hear you tell. And sweet lord, lover, didn't he sound like you, his little voice intoning just like your big one, and his hands making the same dramatic gestures. He's your son, no doubt about that, Jessie B. Prim squealed in delight as he tickled her at the finale, and both of them had completely forgotten the fear and the rain.
It was just the storytelling, that's it, and in our heads each of us had whatever we needed. Nevermind that island was flooding, and I was scared to death that the wind would rip off a chunk of our ceiling, or the cellars would flood beyond repair and ruin our extra supplies, or the storm would blow in still more wels.
'Cause when I closed my eyes I could imagine that the house was your arms around me, the windows like your smiling eyes, the walls your broad protective hands.
Sometimes that's all I want, just to be in your arms, baby. Just you telling me it'll be all right. Lie to me, if you want, tell me it'll be okay. I wouldn't believe you, but I'd love you for trying. And with your arms around me I might be that much less afraid.
I hope you're all right, lover.
I'll see you when you come home.