She opened her eyes, seeing her nose directly opposing his – almost, but not quite touching. Her breaths were shallow, as if even in sleep she had been aware of his proximity. She breathed through her mouth, as did he; lips slightly parted, crooked, open just enough for a sliver of air to pass through the wanton caverns of his throat and mouth. Alert within seconds of waking, she noticed how he breathed with a bit of his voice. There was a tiny hint of sigh in each inhalation.
Her eyes were very round. His nostrils were perfectly round. She rested one perfectly lacquered fingernail on the tip of his nose, as if by way of making sure he was really there. One eye shot open, the other lagged behind. A smile slowly spread its way across his face. ‘Hello you!’ Almost instinctively, he shot his arms out and pulled her to him, lazy and strong.
‘I’ve been thinking,’ she whispered into his collarbone, ‘We might check outside, to make sure the world hasn’t ended.’
‘That’s definitely a priority,’ he yawned, ‘Good job you’re here to think of these things, lady.’ He raised a flattened palm, which she echoed, pressing hers against his.
She examined his hands, the fleshy pillows of his finger-backs. ‘I dreamed last night about rescuing an Italian family from a castle,’ she said, moving out from the nest he had created for her, between his shoulder and his chest. ‘And I have never woken up feeling so powerful, you know.’
She looked up to find that he had slapped his one free hand over half of his face; the exposed half grinned and eyeballed her. ‘In places like dreams we could live like kings, I feel.’
‘I don’t know that I want to be a king, even in a dream,’ she said, as she folded unto him; her fingers bent through his and he copied until they were laced. ‘It is just wonderful to be a person.’
‘I didn’t say we would be kings,’ he asserted, ‘But that we would live like them.’ There was momentary silence. He twitched his nose and rubbed the side with his index finger. ‘To be kings! Oh to be kings…’ he muttered, pulling the covers over first his head, then over hers which sat a little higher up on the pillows. ‘To be kings, we must have our own kingdom, our own palace, the fat of our own land.’ ‘I remember that,’ she said, looking through the sheets to find the stray sunshine that was filtering through the blinds outside.
‘I remember, ‘the fatta the lan’. Fat land, man. Fatty lamb.’
‘You mustn’t play with your words, it’ll ruin your breakfast.’ He kissed her, rubbing his lips across her cheekbone. ‘You mustn’t look at my face, it’ll ruin your breakfast,’ she replied, mock-angrily rubbing his lip trace from her skin.
‘What is for breakfast anyhow? You’re being terribly generous to me, cooking and all.’ He ignored her, and shuffled further down the bed til he was facing her belly, which was slightly exposed where her vest top had ridden up. She had insisted on wearing a pair of his pyjama bottoms the previous evening, and the waistband was folded over several times to make them small enough to fit her. Her belly was rounded, in an unselfconscious kind of way. Her feet were much the same; not quite so assuming as to be proud, but they commanded a certain space for themselves, all else be damned.
He made a fist, and knocked on her belly. Wrinkling his nose in effort, he attempted his best Queen Elizabeth accent, ‘Excuse me,’ he said, ‘I say, excuse me!’ He poked his head back up to look at her, with feigned anger etched across his features. ‘I say, was one aware that inside ones navel lies a whole universe which refuses entrance to me, the most eligible entrant in this whole room?’
She groaned and turned on her front, ‘There’s nothing in there but silliness,’ she said, burying her face in the pillow that he had slept on, ‘And children. I am full of children.’
‘I can see that, chap.’ He poked her side, where a tiny bit of her belly could still be seen, ‘What kind of universe should it be with no children?’ His voice had altered slightly, however, and he shuffled back to the pillow-stead to see her. ‘Are you actually full of children, though?’ he asked, a slight hint of the comic in his tone but with none of it’s former aristocratic outrage.
She turned on her side, her face already slightly pillow-wrinkled from her little submersion, ‘No,’ she said, ‘Just full of potentials. I was saying how wonderful it is to be a person, not how wonderful it is to be people.’ On the last word, her eyes drifted toward the windowsill that lay to her right. Delightful bric-a-brac; a candle-lit oil burner, Russian dolls and of course, the picture frames. Pictures of years before, and of only yesterdays littered the room. His face, his little nose with a lady who wasn’t her. Silver frames, wooden frames, gilt frames – all that effort for two tiny noses.
She turned back towards him, and rolled into his chest. ‘It was so special to meet you last night,’ she sighed, ‘Truly, it was.’