“I am not lazy. I’m exhausted!” she exploded.  

    And her eyes drooped, and her chest deflated, and she was no longer thinking about the fight – only about finding a place to sit down.

    And his shoulders drooped, and his chest deflated as he looked back at her with a mix of pity and appeal.  But the conversation was over.

    He only watched as she resigned into the couch cushions and looked beyond the cluttered floor.  

    Stillness took charge, like an over protective friend who stood between her and anyone else who would dare attempting to disturb her.  For now, she needed silence in order to survive until the eventual moment when the quiet would break and the stillness would acquiesce to the inevitable requirements of being alive.  

    She breathed and listened to her thoughts.

    When you finally accept, as you always do, that you must respond to being alive, you will get up, move, meet the need.  You always do. But for now – exhale – slowly. Good. Now, again.

    And she continued to stare with heavy eyes off as far as she could through the wall on the other side of the room.

    And he stood where she left him, defeated by the same unmovable weight.

    He knew he could not fix it.  He knew he could not convince her that he had not said that.  His job was to love her from the other side of the distance that she needed.  His job was to continue forward, allowing time to progress for both of them so that when she returned she could join him, quietly at first, without question, and without necessary resistance.  

    Until then, she was untouchable.  No peace offerings – no blanket, no tea, no words.  Permitted stillness would be his peace offering.

    So, he left the room in the direction of the kitchen allowing her a clear path to move back to the bedroom.   

    Alone, she blinked and her eyes floated back over her surroundings.  Puzzle pieces, throw pillows, action figures, shoes – all left where she would find them when she could.  

    She breathed and closed her eyes.

    Inside, she noticed the rhythmic pulsing of her heart just under the slow rising and lowering of her chest, and she focused on it a long time until she balanced right on the edge of falling into a soft cathartic sleep.

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Angela Lowell
Angela Lowell is an English Teacher and cross country coach in Colorado, where she lives with her husband, son, and spaniel.

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