spoon

He texts me at ten o'clock on Friday night, as I'm fixing something to eat. I think you gave me AIDS. Or a cold. Nope, wait, nope, yup. Yup, it's totally a cold. And I probably got it myself. Disregard. 

I feel myself smile, maybe bigger than I have all week. Maybe bigger than I should. I haven't spoken to him since Sunday, and wasn't sure I would again. I saw him only long enough to have a couple of drinks with he and a friend of his, the night following our first date a week ago - and something had seemed off then. I couldn't tell if it was distraction or disinterest or something else, but despite his having invited me to join him at the bar, he didn't seem overly excited to see me again. And our texts on Sunday had been few and short.

So I'd more or less written him off, assuming the fun I'd had on our date was because I'd had too much to drink. And that I was alone in having had that much fun.

All of this considered, I'm feeling cautious. I'd been surprised by the weird vibe on Saturday, and don't want to walk myself into...something. I text him back a picture of me on crutches. Don't talk to me about your "problems". That's my new Late Summer 2013 look.

What did you do? Oh, is that your apt. complex? I wouldn't remember what those are like because I'M HOMELESS. Sawyer problems > Ellie problems.

I explain how I sustained my injury and he explains how he caught a cold: overworking, lack of sleep, and the stress of couch surfing until he finds a new place to live. When I ask specifics about a fundraising event he's directing, he begs off. Too long to text about right now. I'm falling asleep. Must. Rest. Before. Drinking. Tomorrow. 

I spend most of Saturday dozing on and off, my foot throbbing. When I finally wake up around six pm, I've got a handful of missed texts from him, starting around noon. He's in Venice with friends. My drinking has cured my cold for a couple hours. I'm gonna crash hard tonight. ...in your bed. Beware. I can't tell if he's serious.

- I'll put on my sexiest Ace bandage. 

- Rawr. Tell me more.

- I"ll beat you with my crutches?

More tipsy, slightly incoherent banter, as his phone is dying. I have no idea if really intends to come downtown tonight, and can't get a straight answer. He's sick and been drinking but he wants to see me, but he probably shouldn't, but he'd like to, if I don't mind hanging out with a sick person, or he can go back to Hollywood for the night, he's losing battery power...

I bristle a little bit at the idea that this is some kind of drunken booty call, and debate between telling him to get back to me when he's sober and ignoring him completely, knowing that when his phone dies in a moment he won't be able to get permission/confirmation from me.

I choose the latter.

He finds an outlet and charges his phone enough to continue the conversation.

He wants to take a bus from Venice to downtown and come spoon with me, if I'll have him. "Spoon" momentarily disarms me like kryptonite, but I let him know in no uncertain terms that I am a bit of a mess with a jacked-up foot and there will be no messing around.

- I'm not asking for that!

- I didn't say you were! ...Just disclaiming. 

He gets to my place an hour later, and I'm mildly surprised that's he actually come. I know an hour bus ride sucks under any conditions, but is hellish when sick. I feel a little bit of my wariness melt away, seeing him walk into my apartment.

He laughs at my jerry-rigged rolling desk chair scooter and greets Chaucer, who is thrilled to have someone ambulatory to play with. He doesn't look sick, but he's clearly miserable, sniffling and coughing and pressing his palms against the sinus pressure points on his face. I announce that he needs Emergen-C, and hop one-legged into the kitchen to fix it for him. All of my glasses and mugs are in the running dishwasher, so I stir the powder into a small bowl, which he looks at with skepticism.

"Just pretend it's a cafe au lait," I instruct, handing it to him. "Like the Frawnch."

He's genuinely exhausted, and we don't stay awake for long. Rather, he doesn't. I spend most of the next five hours laying quietly awake beside him, knowing I should get up and work, but loathe to move away from the warmth of his body. When we face one another, I steal moonlit glances at his shoulders and chest, and at the tawny scruff along his jawline. When he feels me turn away, he wraps his arm around my waist and pulls me tight against him, careful not to bump my bad foot. He finds my fingers underneath my pillow and laces his own through them.

I may as well be strapped in with cables, for how able I feel to move.

I try to direct my thoughts to the inchoate storyline of my novel, but it doesn't stand a chance against the skin, the breath, and the hips of the man pressed to my back. Eventually I disentangle myself, hungry and restless. I fix cereal, tipping the box an inch at a time, not wanting to disturb the guest sleeping just feet from where I stand. I eat in the dark, sitting atop my kitchen island, Chaucer staring silently up at me. I hop back over to my desk, adjust the brightness on my laptop screen, and answer a few emails. He wakes periodically, sniffling, moaning exaggeratedly, and joking with me.

Daylight finds me tucked back in beside him, finally starting to get tired myself. He slumbers on. I reach down with one hand to pet Chaucer, who snoozes deeply on the rug beside the bed.

Late morning. We're both awake now, though diametrically opposed in sleepiness, with me entering the state he's passing out of. We spend an hour or two talking, lazing about, walking/crutching Chaucer, climbing back into bed, and rinse, lather, repeat. We decide to watch an episode of Orange is The New Black. One episode turns into three. We watch with my laptop propped on a tiny three-legged table we balance on the foot of the bed, pillows piled behind us, and his arm around my shoulders. He plays with my finger tips; I let my hand rest on his thigh. We doze in between the second and third episode, my head on his chest. When I wake to find myself still in that position an hour later, I'm amazed; very rarely can I fall asleep cuddled up like that.

At some point, he leaves to procure lunch, walking four blocks to the grocery store to get himself soup and me a sandwich. I text him my order. HELLO THIS IS MY SANDWICH ORDER PLEASE AND THANK YOU: turkey, cheese, tomato, onion, peppers, olives, oil and vinegar, and a Shetland pony.

- Pony meat is DELICIOUS.

- PONY FOR RIDING ONLY.

- Too late - shit's on the grill.

He returns with soup, a sandwich, heat-and-serve vegetable lasagna, beer, and a box of E.L. Fudge cookies. We eat and return to bed, where we watch a comedy special. We take turns playing favorite songs on Spotify. When I play this for him, he taps the beat on my back while I lay against him. I try but fail to recall the last time I spent an entire Sunday laying around like this, with someone else. I know it's been years.

My friend R. stops by around six with a load of groceries from Trader Joe's for me, a list of things his wife insisted upon my naming, when she found out about my foot. This is not an optional situation, she'd said. We deliver. Sawyer waits upstairs for me while I hobble down to the lobby to let my friend in. "Remember that guy I told you and K. about, that I'd met? I showed K. a picture of him, when we went to trivia?"

R. nods. "Yeah?"

"He's in my apartment," I say. "So when you walk in and see a dude, that's who that dude is." I'm strangely pleased about getting to introduce him to R., who has only heard tell of the guys I've dated over the past several months - none of whom ever made it to the meet-the-friends stage.

Sawyer doesn't leave until dark, and I fall asleep almost immediately after he goes. I don't move an inch until midnight, when an incoming text wakes me up. Spooning would be nice.

I smile and answer immediately, feeling sleepy and warm and glad for the disturbance.

Indeed, I start...