Forming and Reforming

27 Feb 2020

The only other sound, besides his computer whirring and the click-clack of the mechanical keys, was the intermittent patting of raindrops upon the tin roof. It was dark in the third-story bedroom where he laid, with his chin buried in his chest, legs intertwined with those of his wife Ana, who laid next to him. She was on the edges of sleep. Her eyes were closed but dancing, taking in the little sounds of the room and transforming them into her own magical landscapes as she drifted off. Her hand reached out for his arm and squeezed it gently. He took his eyes off the screen for a moment and rubbed her head. The raindrops continued to scatter through the darkness, like his thoughts, streaming into each other as they ran down the roof.


Barely an hour later he awoke with his laptop askew to his left and his chin covered in drool. Strewn throughout the story he had been writing were words without meaning, formed of consecutive letters and symbols where his drowzy hand had fallen. Ana was facing him, and woke as he did; she looked into his face with big brown eyes.

“You need to be careful with your laptop, Marco” she said to him softly, stroking the hair above his ear. “What would happen if it had fallen while you were sleeping?”

He frowned a little bit.

“I didn’t know I was going to fall asleep.”

“Oh, dear,” Ana teased. “That’s exactly my point. You could easily be waking up to a broken laptop.”

“Better that, than watch your dreams fly away and not seek to catch them,” Marco said, editing away the mistakes and errors he made in the night. It was an important process for him, going through and generating nonsense words to see how well they would fit with the rest of the work. He liked the sensation of writing-until-dreaming, which could quickly lead to writing-as-dreaming. He found tremendous insight in the words chosen by his subconscious.

Not at that moment, however. He methodically removed a dozen s’s from the end of a word and changed the text font color from blue back to its original black.

“That’s enough for now, I think,” said Ana, a look of longing on her face. Her hand raked through his hair.

“Okay, I’ll put her to bed.”

He leaned to the side and put the computer down, but was surprised for at that moment, she rolled away and stood up. Wordlessly but with a noise that punctured the blackness she grabbed her toothbrush and banged out the door and into the bathroom. Marco was left to think by himself in the suddenly empty space.


In the bathroom Ana stared at her sleepy reflection in the mirror as she brushed her teeth lethargically.

It’s two in the morning, she thought, why am I up, brushing my teeth? What am I doing in this bathroom? She rinsed her brush. The bathroom light made her face glow weirdly in the mirror. It was even quieter in the bathroom, but somehow the proximity of the walls and the gurgling toilet made the room seem louder than the bedroom they shared. Ana closed her eyes and tried to clear her head. She had been by Marco working next to her. He was an aspiring writer, and often spent nights tapping away at the keyboard while she slept. It normally didn’t bother her. Something about tonight was different, and had set her off. She needed a little bit of breathing room. Everything inside her felt like it had been suddenly wound tightly and needed to be wringed out. She took a deep breath.


“Hey,” Marco said as she came back in the room. The lights were out and he was lying on his back without any of the covers. “How are the chompers?”

“Fine, really,” Ana said. “I just had the urge to brush. My mouth was feeling really gross.” Ana walked over to the bed and sat down.

“That’s okay!” Marco rolled over and touched her face softly with his hand. He looked for her eyes, but Ana had busied herself with throwing the blankets over their legs again.

The wind softly whispered their names as they nestled into one another, each of them finding the little spaces between their bodies and filling them, one by one, with their arms and legs and chests. They made little noises of affirmation as they grew closer and closer together.

“Ready for sleep?” Ana asked. Marco nodded. Then there was a pause, in which Marco’s gaze sort of fixed on the corner of the window. He could sense a feeling of unease, even as they snuggled ever closer, that still hung in the air from Ana’s abrupt departure from the bedroom moments earlier. But he chose to keep quiet, and ran his hands through Ana’s hair instead. She appreciated this silence and buried her face into his chest. It went on like this for some time until they were both asleep, each hoping desperately that their dreams would contain the other.


Sunlight poured onto Ana’s back the next morning through the three windows next to their bed. In front of each, as makeshift curtains, hung colorful fabric, souvenirs from their past together: a sarong from the Mediterranean, a scarf from the mountains. The walls next to the windows were plastered with their own paintings and art pieces, mostly just regular pieces of paper taped up with immense pride, and sunlight fell gently across the multitude of colors. Marco woke first, sneezing his way out of a snore and into consciousness. Ana was buried into his chest, breathing lightly. She had somehow managed to kick all the covers off and curl even closer to him in the night. With his free hand, he massaged her back, rubbing between her shoulders and down her spine. He did this for a long time before she woke up.

“Good morning,” he whispered into the back of her head. She nuzzled up his chest and looked at him. There was a brief, sizzling moment when their eyes met and they unfurled. Before they could creep closer together for a kiss they heard the sounds of their eight-year-old daughter Luna crashing down the stairs, and Marco was already sweeping his legs out of bed and into a pair of jeans.

“Can you make pancakes for Luna?” Ana asked, arching her back like a cat as she followed her husband with her eyes.

“Only because I know you want some, too,” he said with a smile, buttoning a flannel shirt and tiptoing over for a quick peck on Ana’s forehead. Then he was away, down the stairs towards the kitchen, and Ana was the one who was alone in the brightly lit bedroom, listening to her family bang the pots and pans as she flopped back onto the pillows with a deep sigh. She hadn’t told Marco about the sensation from last night, and she didn’t know how she would approach the topic. She laid there for a little while longer, letting the sounds of the kitchen float out and wash over her for several moments, and the ringing of her daughter’s laughter made the corners of her mouth curl upwards ever so slightly. Then she got herself up, bouncing out of bed with renewed vigor, throwing on her fuzzy blue bathrobe and sashaying into the shower, unsure of the emotions she was feeling but confident enough in where they came from to let them carry her through the morning.


Marco wiped his hands on the towel attached to the oven and set about cleaning the morning’s breakfast. He had just seen Luna off to the bus stop in front of their house, and was filling a bowl to rinse as Ana came down the stairs, ready for work, still putting one of her earrings on.

“How’s our little moon?” she asked him without looking too much in his direction, looking instead for her purse and rummaging through it furiously. It was happening again, somehow, this feeling: all of a sudden she couldn’t bear to look at him.

“Lovely as always. Where were you?” Marco had his back turned as well. Neither of them looked enough at the other to discern what they were doing or how they were feeling.

“I had to shower and get ready. I’m meeting a client this morning and it’s someone big. My boss told me that I needed to be on my game. I was feeling a little off this morning, so I took a long shower. I must have just missed her.” Ana could hear herself justifying her actions as she spoke, but saw no way out but forwards. “I hope the two of you had a nice breakfast.”

“We did.”


“It was. I’ll pick her up from school? And take care of the living room, I know you’ve been on about how dusty all the surfaces have become.” Marco had a hard time keeping bitterness out of his voice, but Ana wasn’t paying attention, taking a couple pancakes from the table and putting them into a tupperware.

She rose from the table, slid her way across the kitchen into his arms, and kissed him. There was another brief moment where their eyes met and everything seemed to melt like warm ice cream all around them. Then she was off with a wave and a hurried “I love you”, and Marco was left to a kitchen full of empty plates.

He set about cleaning again, going through the steps methodically, like he was a machine built for the purpose. Cleaning the house soon followed, as he worked through the living room’s dust problem before taking out the trash, sweeping the hallway, and watering the standing plants in their bedroom. Only when he was back near the bed did he see his computer again, and his whole body twitched involuntarily with the urge to write. Before he could open it and begin writing again, however, the phone rang in the other room and he scurried away to answer it.


Luna looked out the bus window on the way to school. Streaming past the dirty glass was an endless line of cloud. The clouds were streaking across the sky, forming and reforming into funny shapes just for her. She fingered the ring on her left hand, the one her mom had given her, smooth and wooden and painted to have a little yellow moon smiling up at her. “Don’t you ever lose this,” her mom had said to her while slipping it on her finger for her birthday the year before. Luna had worn it ever since. If she really cleared her mind, she could still feel the hug they had shared after Luna squealed with excitement and ran into her mother’s arms. But, just like everything outside of the bus, the feeling soon passed her by and she left to go to school, old memories of her mother digesting in her mind as her father’s pancakes digested in her tummy.