The Morning After

[Excerpt from Novae]

I woke up to a symphony of odd sensations. The smell of coffee filled the room, the sound of keystrokes echoed in a long crescendo, and the mattress was moving to the rhythms of, what I gathered was, the soothing vocals of Sohn. I opened my eyes, and she was seated upright, in the bed, with earphones in and a laptop on her knees. Her fingers hit the keys with, what felt like, an air of self-assurance. My sudden movements did nothing to deter her rhythm. It seemed her train of thought matched the speed of her fingers.
I looked over at her screen and immediately noticed the document title at the top of her screen; “Novae” it read. The dark words that sat beneath it told me that she was not dealing with her grief as well as she seemed to be. The piece read like a manifesto that had been soaked in sadness. Her eyes were red, but I didn’t know if that was because of the weed, the screen, or the feeling that sat between betrayal and bereavement.
When she finally noticed that I had been fixated on her screen, she quickly shut her laptop as she said: “It’s not finished yet.” After an awkward moment or two, she suggested that we shower before deciding how to go about the rest of the day. We were about halfway through the shower when she started crying. In my soapy state, I held her close and let her know that it was all going to be alright.
“You don’t know that” she barked.
“You’re hurting. I can’t claim to understand, but I know. How do we make this better?”
“Better?”
“It’s never going to be the same, but it can be better than this. Short-term? There’s nothing we can do about that because it’s all reactions but how do we ensure healthy grieving?”
“You’re trying to intellectualise this? Are you fucking serious? Do you know how insensitive you sound right now?”
“It hurts me to see you hurting. All I want to do is to try to figure out what our plan is. I can’t just sit here and…”
She broke our embrace.
“Our plan? Are you fucking kidding me? Did she teach you how to ride a bike? Did she teach you about relationships? Did she teach you the alphabet? Did she help you through almost every relationship problem that you’ve ever had? You met her a few months ago; I grew up in her house. She was the first mother I’d ever had. Fuck you, bra!” she said with her tears temporarily ceasing.
I tried hugging her to calm her down, but she refused my affections. After staring at me for, what felt like, years, she got out the shower, dried herself off, and then headed straight for her room. I finished showering, dried myself off, and then headed to her room to get my clothes. I found her halfway through her lotion routine, so I pulled mine out too. In silence, we hydrated our skin suits. She got
dressed before me so she was in the kitchen while I was still lacing my shoes up and wondering what the plan would be.
The door started opening by the time I was most of the way to it. She was holding a cup of coffee and a pack of cigarettes but then handed them both to me.
“I don’t want you to think I’m a bad host,” she said.