I am aware as my wife stirs.
She folds the blankets back into place, taking care to lay them flat so there is no leakage of warmth.
She thinks I still sleep. But I feel her absence before the chilly spring air can steal the heat of her body from her side of the bed. She was far from me before she rose, slipped on shoes and stole from the room.
The boards did not creak, nor the hinges on the heavy wooden door. Accessories to her furtive behavior.
I imagine as the silence cloaks her movements.
The circular stairway to the ground floor.
The darkened house she crosses to the exit.
The coarse stones beneath her feet.
The unsteady cracked steps to the beach.
The wet dark stones under the hammer of surf.
The flash as the moon’s light catches on her pale skin.
The rock on which she neatly lays her clothes.
The water as it envelopes her bare feet.
The silk of her skin which raises no prickles in the icy water, which feels like breathing to her.
Feet give way to fins. She will swim into the darkness, clear her sleepless mind.
I cannot go with her, and learned long ago not to try. Also learned that when the dawn breaks, her head will rest beside mine again, and I will breathe in the salt of the sea in her hair, the wildness of the ocean in her heart.
Author’s note: These snippets are unedited free-writing exercises that I use as a way to shift my brain into a creative state. I use Lynda Barry’s What It Is YouTube timed exercises (usually 9 minutes worth of writing) for these. They are handwritten in a composition notebook, and then typed up here. As I transcribe them, I do tiny grammar and spelling checks, but the overall “clarity” (if you can call it that) of the exercise is left as-is.