The linen sheets on our bed are ripping. It started with a small hole, near where we sit to remove our shoes and socks. There is a thirty-six inch space at the edge of our bed that is open air, with the walnut topped dresser on one side, and the ninety-degree angle that comprises the back edge of our bathroom on the other.
At first, I paid no mind to the tiny rip. Surely it was keys, or a belt buckle, that caught on the wrong day, one of the ones where I've not made the bed. Time, as it does, wore on. We'd peel back the sheets and press our bodies firmly into the mattress, often dirty, broken. There are drops of blood on the sheet now, an injury that wasn't addressed or perhaps not even noticed, leaving it's mark.
I noticed another hole a few days ago, the day I stood at the worktable outside, the gnats swarming my eyes and crotch and armpits, and I couldn't breathe. The air was so thick and wet, and my clothes clung to my body in that uncomfortable way that only the deepest of the South can cause, and as I worked on tiny, shiny little details, I began to gain weight. It was slow at first, and I didn't take note...perhaps it was the humidity, and the gnats, so I swatted them away and covered my sticky skin with sticky repellent and fisted a beer.
I worked, and rubbed at the cast aluminum with polish. The weight wasn't going away. I was heavier, and the air was thicker still. Was I imagining it? Was it real? Had the day heated? I clicked on the fan, one of those loud industrial ones you shout over, good for creating wind strong enough to push away the gnats and mosquitos, to dry beads of sweat and drenched brows.
I counted the holes in the sheet tonight, as I curled in bed with my laptop and a bit of wine. Sixteen, with more on the way. The sheet is thinning, ripping open in places and exposing the mattress underneath. The threads are separating as we sleep, as the day wears on and the movement of life pushes on them, as we roll in them and reach for one another in a desperate cling.
"They were supposed to last a lifetime," I say, a nod to the manufacturer's promise. "They were meant to be with us until we were old."