I half sat/half lay propped up on a pillow in bed looking out the bay window in the nearest corner of Betty’s large bedroom in the back of her new flat—it still felt like she’d only just moved in. The old flip-clock-radio on the glossy black end table that her art-school sister had painted in the Downtown apartment that she and Betty had shared when we’d first met—nearly four years ago—said that it was a little after three in the morning. I hardly felt sleepy. Through the windows I’d been watching the lights of the rooms in the gray-and-white high-rise hotel down the slope of Laguna Street in Japantown go off one by one. Now there were only two or three people still awake over there.
Red warning lights were blinking at the four corners of the crest of the high-rise, well beneath the low, cloudy sky. This hovering fog, lit up by the city below, glowed above the flats and shops marching in their ordered, semi-suburban rows through the Richmond District all the way to the ocean, a profound pinkish gray tonight, too high and thick to burn off in the morning. Tomorrow wouldn’t be a pretty day.
In order to watch the lights of the high-rise I had to look over the backside of a row of modest Victorian flats lined up on Pine Street under the elegant bay window in Betty’s bedroom. From behind you can see that all four of the buildings have the same exact floor plan, although each has a unique façade sticking up in front of its flat roof. Their windows were closed up tight against the damp evening and it was now dark in all of the rooms into which I could see. A child lived in the back bedroom of the apartment closest to Betty’s window, and I’d watched its mother put it to bed a couple of hours before, against its will, before it was really ready. It was lying quietly now in the dark, asleep, or maybe awake like me, and trying not to bother anyone.
Betty twitched and turned beside me, pushing a pocket of air out from under the comforter. I love the way she smells, her moist skin when we’re in bed together, under her arms, her breasts, her thighs, and her lap around which she’s curled up tonight, hugging her knees. The comforter always makes us sweat. But I felt cold suddenly, half out of the covers, still awake, staring, even though I could feel the heat coming off of Betty lying next to me.
It had only been a couple of months since we’d moved apart and I missed living with her. I’d been the one to suggest our separating for a while, but regretted it now. I’d found my friends and the bars and clubs I haunted more boring than I’d remembered them. Finally I’d pretty much given up on going out altogether. I’d pushed against the “us” of Betty and I for a long time and we always fought over things that seemed like nothing when you looked at them later. The “us” of Betty and I had withstood a lot, maybe more than it should have. It made a third thing, not exactly who we are but which we made together—a thing that never seemed to get broken by my struggling against it, or now hers.
Betty’s cat, Domitia, stood up at the foot of the bed, stretched, spun around once or twice, and then curled itself into a ball again, lowering its head onto its forepaws. It felt good, I thought, being the three of us all in the same bed again, but strange too, being in a different place—this apartment, which I didn’t like much because of what had happened here, in this very bed, and only a few weeks before. Domitia stared at me suspiciously, as cats do.
I felt the pulse of her shoulders, then, the sobbing. Betty hadn’t been asleep, or had just woken up and was crying, thinking about it.
“Come on, Bets, it’s not so bad.” I pulled her towards my chest, her face hot, smelling the way it did when we made love, damp from the stifling comforter and the crying, her eyes shut tight, my dry skin skidding against her moist skin. “It’ll be alright. You’ll see. After tomorrow it’ll all be okay.” It didn’t quite connect in my mind, at this hour, that tomorrow was already here—I guess because I knew we’d go back to sleep after this.
“Oh, Bets. Someday we’ll have a kid, you and me. And you’ll hold the little thing in your arms and I’ll sit there and play with it and we’ll giggle.” I was rocking her shoulders back and forth, her breath on my chest. I ran my hand down across her smooth stomach. “Someday we’ll have one, you and me.”
About the author:
Lee Foust hails from the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay Area but has lived for many years in Florence, Italy. There he writes, performs his compositions—with and without banging a drum—and teaches literature and creative writing to US students studying abroad. Lee is the author of Sojourner, a collection of stories, verse, and prose poems gathered around the theme of place: home, travel, escape, getting lost, and expatriatude. “The Morning of the Day” is part of the forthcoming collection Poison and Antidote, nine inter-connected stories of the artists, writers, musicians, and Bohemians of the San Francisco art scene during the Reagan years. For more info see http://www.leefoust.com