My parents sleep on opposite sides of their double bed.
My dad, dark black hair spiked with silver and bloodshot-eyed from leaving his contacts in, often falls asleep on the couch in the living room, passing by the early hours with one documentary after another, letting his insomnia keep him on an eternal loop in which he keeps waking up. He is upright mouth wide open eye-peel staring in jean cutoffs as I creep past him to assess my 3AM house.
My boyfriend is approximately ten minutes away from climbing into my window. I know how late my dad stays up. I know he stays far from my room on the other side of the house.
My mom is in bed, also upright, dyed brown hair scraggly from too much straightening for work every morning. Contained. A magazine is scattered across her blue duvet and the light is on. Her glasses rest precariously against her long nose. She snores louder than my dad. I turn off the light quietly, pet my sleeping beagle, and close the door to the hallway that connects my room to the rest of the house.
This is the ninth night in a row my parents have slept in this arrangement. I know at some point around 6AM my dad wakes up and crawls into the left side of my mom’s bed before my grandma and my brothers wake up. At 6AM I wake up too, nudging Brad’s shoulder until I hear the sudden intake of breath that tells me he’s awake. He rubs his eyes and pushes his head into my shoulder, all milkstained teeth and morning breath kissing the corners of my mouth. He slides out my window while it’s still dark, stars still dotting the patches of dewy front-yard sky unobscured by trees. The air filters through, icy, as I return the screen to the window, watching him walk up my driveway to his car down the street and we’re both bleary-eyed and happy-sighs.
I fall back into bed counting minutes half asleep until I feel the sounds of my house as it begins to wake up.
I hear my mom and cringe, anticipating her pounding footsteps as she bursts into my room, hitting at the switch until my blinding room lights turn on unapologetically. Wake up. If you’re late again you’re fucking grounded. You are so fucking irresponsible. I am taking away your car if you don’t move. The muscles in my shoulders tense but I force relaxation. I know she never follows through, her moods mercurial and seemingly always out of my favor. I am followed around the house until I leave for school, dodging barked instructions to brush my teeth faster, brushing off lazy declarations of worthlessness and I like her more when she’s asleep. But then I drive to school, leaving her and my dad more and more behind me with every block.
I pull the sticker off a peach and eat it; the glow of interlocked arms under blankets had already stained my cheeks pink. He is half-asleep driving home to fill the next few hours with sleep before work. Twenty miles away my dad sits in his cubicle, surrounded by computer parts and greyscale and I wonder how he pulls through without that slow-fading warmth.