You smile impishly at me, "Good to see you're finally awake. Happy Birthday beautiful."
The wonderful aroma of coffee and pancakes fills the air as you set the tray down on my lap.
I thank you quietly and realise that we are both somewhat embarrassed by this uncharacteristic gesture of affection. I can't even remember the last time that you made me breakfast, let alone served it to me like this.
Leaning down you kiss my forehead and force yourself into the small space between me and the edge of the bed. You help yourself to some of my coffee and then shoot me my favourite cheeky grin. The awkwardness fades now that we are pressed together so closely in this bed.
What does that say about us? That we are more comfortable pressed against one another in bed, than with small gestures of love and affection? What does that say of our marriage?
You nudge me in the ribs and I realise that you are waiting for me to eat. I get so lost in my head sometimes.
The pancakes are pretty bad. The product of your love of eating out with friends and my hatred of the kitchen. Not wanting to hurt your feelings I wash them down with coffee and shoot you what I hope is a pleased and grateful smile.
While I eat we chat about the dinner party that we went to last night, how we had a much better time once we got home and into bed together, and our plans for my birthday which largely consisted of more time in bed together.
You help me finish the last pancake, a gesture for which I am infinitely grateful. I don't think I can choke down another bite.
Your next move surprises me. I am expecting you to put the tray on the floor and then kiss me back down onto the bed. Instead you hand me a card.
In it you wish me a happy birthday, of course, and go on a beautiful and emotional rant about how much you love me, how wonderful I am, how kind, happy, strong, and giving. How you are so excited for the next chapter of our lives together. A home of our own with a yard that our kids can play in, a dog and a swing-set and neighbours and friends.
The words begin to get fuzzy on the page and I realise that I am holding my breath. I haven't even noticed that you are kissing your way down my neck and across my shoulder.
The future you have planned is nothing like the one in my head where we grow old together, just the two of us, entwined in this bed. The woman you have described doesn't feel like me either. I'm not kind or strong or beautiful. I am a mess of a girl, cracked and barely holding it together. Needing to feel your body on mine so that I can feel anything at all.
Is this really how you see me? All virtue and goodness? Do you know me at all? Or are you just in love with the idea of me? I have masqueraded as this woman you describe for all the world for all my life, but I thought you knew better. I thought you looked deeper and saw the real me. If this is who you think you are in love with, then you certainly aren't in love with me. How could you be so stupid? Did you think I was playing when I said that I hate children? Or when I said that you and me in this bed was all that I would ever need?
I wonder if this is all a joke and pull your face to mine. I look into your eyes for the wicked humour that will give you away. I look as deep as I can and finally I see something, a warm fuzzy glow. It's nothing that I have ever noticed before. I think it's love. Not the shallow depraved love that I have always seen, always needed, but something soft and tender.
I gasp and thinking that it is a sound of pleasure, you cover my mouth with yours. You kiss me deeply, and I realise that instead of passionate anger and force, this kiss full of all the love that you could never say out loud.
Horror overtakes me as I realise that I'm just as stupid as you are. All these years I have looked into your eyes and seen what I wanted to see. I have touched your body and felt only what I needed to feel. I'm not in love with you either. Just the idea of you.