The Middle of the Bed

This post was inspired by friends discussing sleeping arrangements and expectations in different kinds of relationships. It got me thinking about my own attitude to sleeping next to others. You can find more of my opinions, photos and general NSFW enthusiasm on Twitter at @confess_hannah.

 

I hear my alarm slowly getting louder as I reach towards my right hand side. I’m sprawled out on my front, across the middle of my double bed, and my phone is usually somewhere nearby.

I snooze my alarm and turn onto my back, staring at the ceiling. Since I moved into my new flat, I haven’t shared my bed with anyone. Not once have I had to consider which side is ‘my side’, as in fact it is all my side. Long gone are the days where I’d curl up in my duvet on the right hand side of the bed. Instead I starfish, with one solitary pillow, with only my own sleep quality to consider. I begin to recall times when that wasn’t necessarily the case.

***

I knock on your door for the third time in two months. You answer and move to allow me to enter- no hug, no kiss, no intimacy. I strip to the outfit you requested, bend over your sofa and you beat me. You beat me until I’m sore, before leading me to your bed and fucking me until I’m sore elsewhere.

You put the kettle on and make two cups of tea. I sit on the sofa and collect myself, and we both comment on the snow outside. I live out of town, I arrived in wellies to stop my feet and tights from soaking on the way over, and the buses are now cancelled.

‘Feel free to stay here’ he suggests, and I look at the sofas quickly deciding which one would be comfier. But he expects me to stay in his bed, and I wonder what it would be like, so we awkwardly merge our totally separate night time routines and I slip into an oversized tshirt of his before joining him in his bed.

It’s 4:30am and I have lay awake for most of the night. We are not interested in being close, and I have edged so far across ‘my side’ of his bed that I’m concerned I’ll end up on the floor. I can’t take it anymore, and I gather my things, change, and leave. I wander the early morning streets, relieved that the snow hasn’t continued too much overnight, find a café that opens at 5:30 and wait for the first bus to take me home when they are due to restart in three hours.

I drop a courtesy text, and he later drops a reply saying he wished I was there to use the next morning. The thought is hot, for a second, but the idea of merging our separate morning routines fills me with dread. The minute I get home, I shower and snuggle into my own bed, celebrating my own scent.

***

It is the second time I’ve travelled down to visit you since you moved away. After the glorious few days at your family home which you moved back into over the summer we met, and in which we thoroughly took advantage of the fact your parents were away, I never had any concerns about my visits to your new home. I slept in your bed for convenience, and to perform some of our rather particular, pre negotiated, rather dark fantasies. He tells me to relax, that his space is mine for the weekend, and when I stay in bed as he showers in the morning I leave, I finally do.

Only for a few moments however, as he tells me I need to get up fairly soon and strip the bed. He needs to clean my smell of the sheets for the girl coming around later, and my hair, as he pointed out ‘gets everywhere’.

I think he believed our open dialogue about sex, fantasies and sharing past experiences would make this interaction acceptable. I stripped the bed as he left for work, picked up my things and stole all of the bread in his cupboards and took it to the river to feed the ducks.

***

It’s the first time I’ve stayed over, and I’m awake. It’s 6:30am, and lastnight was pretty heavy. My arse stings, my throat is bruised, and after the exertion before bed, I am hungry. Breakfast is the most important meal of the deal. No matter how much you joke, your cock will never be the core of my breakfasting activities in the morning, but it could happily be an amuse-bouche.

The idea of waiting for you to awaken is the least appealing, as I know it could be hours yet. I could awaken you, but perhaps that would be rude, unwanted and in any case I’m fucking starving. I can’t rummage around your cupboards, because I’m actually rather particular when it comes to breakfast, and I don’t want to have to explain this. I get up, pick up the clothes that were left in a crumpled pile by your coffee table and let myself out. I wander your unfamiliar neighbourhood until I find somewhere that serves sugary tea and something that serves my fickle appetite. I sit and watch the few people wander by, read yesterday’s paper that is still lurking around and realise this is one of the best ways for me to calm down, regroup and personally debrief.

I drop you a text to explain that I took myself out for breakfast. You say you were worried my carriage had turned into a pumpkin. The nickname Cinderella began, as I creep out most mornings following the epiphanic breakfast.

***

We had been together for a few months now. I loved staying in your bed, because of the feeling I got when you asked me to stay in your bed. Or the feeling when we discussed what we would have for breakfast the next morning (blueberry pancakes most often), and our plans for the day ahead. You would go cycling at 10:30, leaving us plenty of time to lay in together, have a relaxed breakfast and get ready to start the day, knowing exactly when our time together would end.

You slept on the right hand side of your bed, because it was nearest your dresser and phone charger, which made perfect sense. That worked well for me, as I could slide in behind you, against the wall, and complement your routine- not drastically altering it. I perfected the 5am step over you if I ever stayed over on a work night, and left you asleep and undisturbed on your side of the bed.

It took a little while before I let you into my space. This was partly because my space is so precious to me, but partly because you lived closer to the centre of town, and it was more practical. I was excited on the first night you came to stay, but as I snuggled into my side of the bed you looked confused and asked if I could move. Because that was also your side of the bed. Your side of the bed, in my bed, which you had not slept in yet. I moved, I didn’t sleep, and was so besotted with you I didn’t notice this small precursor for what would eventually be the reason our relationship would break down.

***

I look to my left and right, as I’m lay in the centre of my bed, and for a split second I notice that I am alone and missing company. Every so often I miss sharing a bed, for kisses, cuddles, sleepy morning sex, and the feeling of being completely at ease with another in one of the most intimate human spaces.

Then I realise it is impossible to miss something you have never experienced. And until I know what that feeling is, please simply fuck me then send me home- or don’t expect me to be there in the morning. I’ll be around the corner eating a croissant.

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3 thoughts on “The Middle of the Bed

  1. Stealing his bread to feed the ducks made me chuckle 😉
    I think I have slept alone in a bed for less nights than I have slept together with someone. I love to have company but only that of someone with whom I feel comfortable with. And of course, for the last 14 years that has been my husband 🙂

    Rebel xox

  2. The vignettes really work as they come together to tell a deeper story. This was a great read and I agree with Marie, the bread stealing was funny. I found something very relatable in wandering the neighborhoods for a breakfast place that would suit you. Love the personal details in your writing here Hannah.

  3. Until last year, I stayed in hotels almost 200 nights a year for the last 10+ years. I miss that most nights. The laying in my bed, completely alone, listening to the air conditioning, or to some light music. When I came home, it felt like it was just a visit, an arrangement where it didn’t matter which side of the bed I was on, because it just wasn’t going to last long, before being back in the middle. The number of times I woke up in the middle of the night, from my own bed, and left for the couch, was almost a real problem for a little bit.

    Thank you for being so open, and sharing so much.

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