When Melinda wakes, it’s to surprisingly soft morning light, an old, familiar bed; she stretches, kicking an extra foot – Robert’s – as she does so, her eyes fluttering open to look at him. At the kick, he mutters something unintelligible, sleep seeming barely disturbed, and she can’t help but smile. This routine, both of them restless sleepers, is old, familiar to them.
She sits up, making to extract herself from the tangled sheets and his arm, ready for the morning…
… And wakes once again, in reality this time, with an ache in her chest and memories she hasn’t dwelt on for a long time in her head. She curses quietly under her breath, the daylight seeming harsher than ever against her newly-opened eyes, and climbs out of this newer, emptier bed.
She looks at the clock and, when she sees the ridiculously early time, has to fight not to knock it off her bedside table.
List trudges into her office, half-asleep, to find Melinda with her feet on the desk, her head in a book. “Have you even slept?” he asks, his voice still slightly rough.
She lowers the book, eyes meeting his, and seems to mull the question over for a few moments before answering, “No. Not really.”
“Do you? Sleep?” With all her other weird habits, it wouldn’t surprise him if she didn’t. There’s just something about her that makes him half-expect strangeness.
She looks at him as though he’s said something incredibly stupid. Now, Melinda doesn’t glare, unless you happen to be a creature trying to possess someone’s soul, but this look comes remarkably close. “Yes. Yes, of course I sleep.”
He nods, mouth stretching in resigned surrender. “Sure. Coffee?”
“Please.” Her head is already back in the book, and she doesn’t even look at him as she says it. This is their old, familiar routine, he thinks, with the trace of a half-smile, making his way to the kettle.
Behind her book, she pretends not to smile at the smell of coffee beans and the off-key singing.