Night Noise by Emma Moser
The pattern of your breathing changes,
and that is how I know we both heard it, that we are both stirring from a different darkness than the one which embraced us, hours ago, as we embraced, fading into sleep, and that the velvet of conversing breaths has been violated by something harsher, rawer,
alien and unwelcome as it scrapes its way into our warm and sacred silence.
Now we are both listening, I know we
are, both on our backs pretending not to see your ceiling as we listen to the shrieks, to the sharpness of voices, unmuffled even beneath your shag-rugged floor, your first-floor Canadian housemate and his girlfriend, again, as his thunderous
shatters like a wave against her rigid godforbidyouasshole,
as their tones of rage suffocate us soft and quiet creatures, we who squirm under lover speech turned hard.
Why do we just lie here, why don’t we
speak, why do we remain in our separate bed-corners, pretending the other must be sleeping through the war downstairs, pretending their noise doesn’t crumble us inside, we whose words to each other have always been silk, and smothered under this noise I can’t
help but wonder what your voice would be at that volume, if it would shake me, and what contortions your face would wear, if it would frighten me, or if I too would yell, hiding behind an unfamiliar voice to shield myself from yours, and where is your arm,
and why doesn’t it reach over to me now.
There is a shift, the single crash of
a slamming door, and though the house is no longer shuddering, though the weight of their shouts dissipates from your room, silence begins to crowd our ears, colder than the one into which we had breathed, hours ago, and it outlines our stillness all the more,
our upturned faces that look at ceilings, and letting go of a sigh I begin a shift in my body, a slow rolling away from your undiscovered arms, to embrace the stillness instead.
But I never find it, because all at once
you are turned over and your face is touching mine, your lips feeling the shape of my forehead in the dark, your hand cupping my shoulder, and the pattern of your breathing changes, perhaps to say
perhaps to let the silence say it for you, and sinking into your warmth, that is how I know: we are safe again.
An MFA candidate for fiction writing at Southern Connecticut State University, Emma Moser‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming at several venues, including Prairie Margins, Cheat River Review, The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, and Thoreau’s Rooster. As creator of the blog “Antiquarian Desiderium.” She is also a contributor at Writers Get Together.