Spaces In Between

by Tom Swift

This is it.

Your dog sits between your legs. Heat whirs through the vents. A sun lamp is on. It is the only light. The night is over. The morning has not yet come.

This is all.

Feel his body rise, then fall, with his breath. He’s in his favorite spot. His body is higher on you than usual. His torso reaches your knees. His butt nestles between your thighs. He is suspended between the couch and the ottoman by a hammock of blanket.

The rest of the room, the house, is dark.

Your hand moves across the page. You search for answers. Your belly rises and falls, too.

His front legs stretch as far as they can. His eyes are closed. His head is on its side.

We are the same and we are all unique. You were baked in anxiety and grief, and joy and pain and a hundred other things but mostly anxiety and grief.

We don’t talk about grief. Maybe we don’t because it’s so hard to separate it from everything else.

In your case, anxiety bottles up grief.

Your shoulder hurts. You tweaked it the other day on the pull-up bar.

Every so many minutes you apply pressure to the tender spot. You press down on that spot and lift your arm slowly, then stop, and hold. To feel the pain. To escalate the pain.

You are working it out. You are aggravating it. You are lifting the cap. And tightening it.

You feel your heart beat inside the pain. And you want the pain to go away. And it will. And it will come back. And it will.

There is no answer, of course.

His breath. Your breath. The pen across the page. The silence in between. All.

You remove your thumb from the spot. You let go of the pulsing pain.

The pressure releases. For now.