Waking up and finding that you are alone in bed is a terrible thing when you're used to having someone next to you. You wake up and notice the spot is empty, and sometimes your first thought is that they've gotten up early or they went to the bathroom or something. Reality dawns just a breath later, inevitable and harsh. If you touch the spot beside you, you'll see how cold it is. In the first few moments after waking- every morning- you have to acknowledge that there is no dent in the other side of the bed, that no one has slept there in a long time.
Something worse than that is waking up in the middle of the night because you do have somebody there. A new presence has wormed its way to your bed. Some part of your mind registers the warmth of another person and the way the bed feels when there is another body lying next to you. But the other part of you immediately trashes that comforting knowledge by saying that the one curled up beside you is not the right person. They feel wrong. They're too small, both in height and in weight. The bed doesn't feel the same, and your arm recognizes that it's wrapped around a different body.

On a rare occasion you're lucky enough to sleep through the night with just the knowledge that you're not alone. On those mornings, the other is gone before you wake. Those mornings are strange, because the bed is warm but your mind tells you immediately that it's not the right warmth.

Most of the time, however, your mind rejects the feeling of the one beside you and you're back to waking up in the middle of the night. For one moment as your eyes slide open, you feel a bit of hope. You can't help it. It's an instinctive tightening of your heart as you realize you weren't dreaming, that you're not alone. And then the rest of you registers just who is lying beside you and everything shatters.

You're not sure what's worse- to sleep knowing that no one else is coming to bed, or waking up in the middle of the night and seeing it's not him.

It's a violent struggle of emotions. Would you prefer this pain or that pain? I can't decide, either. I'm staring down at a dark head that rests against my chest. My arm is draped over him; he is this close to me because I unconsciously pulled him closer. His breath is light against my chest as he sleeps. How he manages to disentangle himself in the mornings without waking me is something I'll never know, something I'll never ask. We pretend that the nights don't exist; we pretend that he doesn't come in here and crawl in my bed so I can sleep easier. It's easier for both of us if we turn a blind eye to it. I don't know how much longer I can deal with this, however.

In the end, you can't decide which is worse, because you can't choose between the pains. The choice you want is the impossible. You want what you lost, what was unfairly stolen from you.

You're never going to get it.

Neither am I.

But that's how life goes, isn't it?

Part 1
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