She slowly wakes up, letting herself linger in that wonderful dimension between worlds where everything is allowed and dreams of the past and future are real for as long as it lasts. Then, as she gains conscience, faces and places fade away and she opens her eyes to the small rays of sunshine that peep through the blinds.
By her side, on her huge double bed, there is no one, but she does not feel lonely. She feels at peace with herself, with her choices, with her life.
There was a time when there was someone on the other side of the bed. Long ago, in the beginning, it was wonderful. Her bed was a place where exciting things happened, from making love for hours to falling asleep exhausted, in each other’s arms. When she woke up to the touch of a loving hand, or caressing lips, or just to turn around and check the familiar, reassuring presence by her side. Every day would bring new adventures, and every day would end in bed again, with love and laughs, sleeping hand in hand, knowing that she need never be afraid of the dark anymore.
Time went by. Often there were other, small visitors to her bed, who came in the night, scared by nightmares, and curled into the space in the middle. She would comfort them and fall asleep knowing that the people she loved the most in this world were sleeping beside her, her bed like a small Noah’s Ark that promised a bright, happy future.
Then came the worst times. Having someone sleeping by your side but feeling the loneliest person in the world. Looking at his back and remembering when his presence was enough to make you drift into a peaceful slumber, with no worries for tomorrow; now it felt like a rock made of ice and metal, so cold you didn’t even dare touch it. She just lay there in the dark, her eyes wide open, lonely, empty; and after a certain time, emotionless too.
It took her years to accept reality and take control of her bed once and for all. Not that she was angry – it was just that she felt too lonely with him by her side on that huge bed. Lonely, deep in her heart and soul. The worst kind of loneliness there is. When you have someone by your side, but you are as far apart as if you lived on another planet. Because it creates the illusion of companionship, when there is none. And you cannot live an illusion forever, nor do you want to, because at the end of the day you know you are living a lie. And human beings have this inexorable tendency for the truth.
She is wide awake now. She sits on her bed and stretches herself, yawning. The other side of her bed is as it should: empty of a human presence, but not really deserted. There are two spare pillows there; and her book, the magical book by Barbara Erskine that she is rereading; and a light blanket in case the cold nights temporarily return. She opens the blinds and smiles to the day outside. She is alone, but far for lonely. She is her best company. She walks to the kitchen to get some breakfast and she thinks of all the things she, and her lifetime companion, the one who will never fail or desert her, will be doing together on that day.