The sun stretched this morning, a pale gold offering. I saw it through the tall grasses between my window and the river. It stretched but didn’t rise.
This morning, I was killed in my dream by my ex-lover, Emenike. In the dream, I wouldn’t take him back, even though he begged, but I wouldn’t leave him alone in peace, either. I stalked him, threw things at him, insulted him. Finally, I jumped out at him from behind a curtain and tried to stab him with a short knife. He ran me through with his sword, screaming. Then, he removed the sword, put his hands in the stab wound and ripped it apart even wider.
I jerked awake, disoriented, feeling slightly ill, breathing raggedly. The muscles of my chest, around my heart, hurt. There was a lump in my throat, like my stomach was preparing to hurl food back up but was undecided as to whether it actually wanted to.
This morning, Odion didn’t wake up from his sleep. He had been working late, and had come to the bed after I fell asleep. He didn’t cuddle with me. I would have woken up if he had, because my temperature is usually high, and, combined with his, cuddling would have been quite uncomfortable as the room was somewhat warm.
His alarm was ringing. I called his name, tapped him on the arm, called his name again. He didn’t stir, didn’t change positions, didn’t breathe differently. Didn’t breathe at all. I knew it wasn’t a dream because in all the thirty-two point ten years since my mother screamed me out of her with a baptism of water and blood, the locations of my dreams have never been familiar places.
I’ve heard many people say they would like to die in their sleep; they think it is the most painless way to go. How do they know, I wonder. Have they ever died in their sleep and come back?
Once, Odion had returned from a trip in the morning. I was at a meeting. I had told him of it, told him the venue. He had come straight to the venue from the airport. When I asked him why he didn’t go straight home, he said while the plane was preparing to land, he had heard my voice in his head calling his name clearly.
I remembered that incident now. I held his hand and called his name again. He didn’t answer. Didn’t stir. Didn’t breathe.
It wasn’t a dream.