Spencer lets himself into my house at about eight at night, while I’m pulling plates from the dishwasher and storing them in their cupboards. He’s carrying a bag with his late dinner in one hand, and a small bag of laundry from the gym and studio in the other. He’s too burdened to offer me more than a quick kiss in passing as he steers himself in the direction of the dining room table. Once he’s free, he shimmies out of his coat and takes a look in the den.
When he looks at the bundle of leopard-spotted fleece balled up in a corner of the sofa, he stops and instantly assesses the situation. His head tilts. He lets out a soft sigh, suspended somewhere between amusement and sympathy. “Your Snuggie is out,” he says. “Oh dear. It’s been that kind of day, has it?”
It’s no secret that I’ve spent the last five months feeling lost. Like a small craft with a cut line, there are days I feel adrift with no course, no one at the tiller. Some days I approach my temporary bachelorhood with a sense of adventure and excitement. Others—well. All I want to do is hide beneath the comforting folds of my leopard-print Snuggie and wish the world would go away. (Shut up. I love my Snuggie.)
“It might have been,” I admit.
His shoulder slump as he looks at me. He wears the kind of expression that could make a man melt. What am I going to do with you? it reads. At the same time, it’s nothing but unalloyed affection, and the desire to make things better. He doesn’t have to ask me to explain myself. He doesn’t have to hear the words. He knows how I’m feeling, just at the sight of that hideous long-armed blanket monstrosity. When he steps forward in my direction, arms outstretched, I know it’s to give me comfort.
He wraps me in hug so strong that I can’t breathe. I feel my spine stretch, and then my feet leave the floor. Spencer lifts all six feet and three inches of me into the air as easily as if I’m one of the tiny dancers with whom he shares the stage. I laugh and protest wildly, afraid I’ll break his back. When finally he sets me down, it’s gently, so that my feet don’t so much strike the ground as approach it, caress it, and lovingly press into it, as gravity once more gives me weight.
“Turn around,” he says. He pushes me down over the kitchen counter. His hips connect with my ass. At the same time, his fingers surround my neck. Their tips dig into the muscle there, squeezing and releasing. They travel from neck to shoulders, to the round pads where my arms join. They dig beneath my shoulder blades and down my spine, teasing out and for the moment banishing the aches.
“Oh, god,” I say, giving in to his hands. I love to be touched. I love it more than fucking, sometimes. “You don’t have to—”
But he shushes me, and continues. Beneath his breath I hear the faintest of hums as he strokes and squeezes my back, soothing me with his talented, strong hands.
It’s a rare treat that continues later in the evening. When he joins me in bed, moist and warm from the shower, he spoons behind me. His pubic hairs tickle against my ass as gently he forces me to hug my pillow, and his fingers roam over my bare skin. In the darkness he silently performs his skillful ministrations, kneading at me, relaxing me in a way that few men ever try. It lasts for long, blissful moments as the both of us drowsily fall toward our slumbers, with the slow and lazy arc of a last autumn leaf descending from an empty branch.
The last thing I see before I close my eyes is the night sky through my open window. I don't notice the limbs of the tree overhanging the house, or the power lines, or the other rooftops on my quiet street. Only points of light in an indigo sky. Stars upon stars, a panorama assembled, over time unimaginable, just for the two of us. For this moment. I wish his touch, this fading kitten’s-paw sensation of his hands at the base of my spine, could be as infinite as the stars' numbers.
Spencer's breath deepens and he sleeps at last.
When we’re in the darkness together, Spencer and I, I feel like we’re two lost boys in the wood, with leaves as our blanket and only our two bodies for warmth. On the nights he spends here, we fall asleep clinging to each other. Tonight, he comforts me. He gives me an anchor when I’m adrift in the darkness, a place to moor myself, for a time.
What comfort do I give him? Some nights, it’s tough to imagine. It's not enough. But he’s here. For his hand on my waist, the rise and fall of his chest, the soft breath on my neck, this lost boy is grateful.