“Turn off the damn light!” said Jesse, squinting his eyes to glare at me through the dim glow of my bedside lamp.
“No,” I said, looking over my glasses to squint back.
“I’m tired. I can’t sleep with that light on!”
“This is the only quiet chance I get to read in peace.”
Jesse turned over muttering, “Every night it’s the same. Apparently reading is more important than my sleep.”
“Reading is more important than everything,” I muttered back.
Jesse reached behind him to grab his phone. “What time do we need to wake up tomorrow?”
“The storm isn’t supposed to hit ’till one o’clock. I guess we’ll just get up with the kids.”
Morning came and the wind was already howling. By eleven, it was the worst winds I had ever seen as a hurricane veteran and the storm hadn’t even made landfall yet.
At twelve we were staring out the windows in shock, our Pecan tree shedding large limbs as thick as an average man.
The lights went out.
One o’clock tolled the bell of reckoning. We lay on the floor in our safest room, a mattress over the one window, staring at each other in silence.
“I want you to know I love you,” I said.
“Likewise,” Jesse answered. “You’re a good partner, you know.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“We’ve done pretty well for ourselves,” he said.
“We have. Pretty interesting lives so far.”
“So far,” he said like he was making a promise.
“So far,” and I closed my eyes.
Five o’clock and we were outside, surveying our two vehicles.
“Didn’t we park these six inches away from each other?” I asked Jesse.
“Yeah,” he said.
“They’re … they’re touching now.”
“Yep,” he said looking up. “It’s getting dark. Let’s get inside and lock the doors.”
I read by candlelight well into the humid night to no complaints.
The next night I read under the fluorescent lighting of a run down hotel, Jesse made no argument.
One week later and I read by the foreign bedside lamp in our new condo. Jesse stared at the ceiling.
One month later and Jesse was sleeping on the floor with the kids next to their air mattress in our temporary apartment. I read in peace until midnight.
Six weeks later and Jesse was pacing the same floor.
“Can’t sleep?” I asked.
“What does it look like?” he answered. “I’m sorry. I’m just exhausted.”
I read until three in the morning.
Two months later and we are in our home. There are no walls yet in some places and the floor we huddled on that day is no longer there, but help has finally come.
Last night I propped myself up in bed after a long day’s work, turned on the lamp and began to read. Jesse laughed heartily at ridiculous videos next to me as we just got internet again.
Wiping laughter driven tears from his eyes, he placed his phone on the bedside table and turned to look at me.
“Hey,” he said. His eyes clearer than I had seen in months.
“Hello,” I answered.
“Turn off the damn light,” he said and rolled over.