Its dark, he couldn’t see, he drew a circle around Jamie and him. In the dark, he saw the stars, he wondered if they could see him, he threw a stone in the water for the waves to hear him. He tossed another one in to make sure.

Jamie was lying behind him, sleeping, he brushed her hair behind her ears, she stirred.

“Honey,” she whispered, “I could draw a circle around you and I and be contented for life.”

Only that she didn’t draw the circle. Jim did. Jim took care of the laundry, Jamie said she would love to help but all the washing were completed by then. She said sorry. Jim walked the puppy that Jamie brought home, only it was already a 13-year-old now when Jamie said she’d love to walk her dog.

But never did.

Jim sat up and looked at Jamie. Her back was turned to him. Her back was always turned to him. He took his blanket and made a circle around Jamie and him, as close as he could get—he didn’t have enough blankets, he can’t use Jamie’s. He sat, holding his knees to his chest, in the cramped circle, like he did that night. Jamie always took up more space.

That night, Jamie drew a larger circle around the first circle, allowing them to lie side by side and speak to the stars. The circle kept becoming larger, first, he had to speak twice for Jamie to hear him, and then they started shouting at each other. Now, out of frustration, they stopped speaking altogether.

Jim thought back and wondered if it was always like this.

In this small, imperfect circle, Jim felt safe, he could feel Jamie’s every movements, he could keep her in sight. Jamie turned and straightened her legs, the circle pulled taut into a tight oval around her. Unlike that night, this circle made out of blanket wasn’t expandable.

Jim held his legs closer.

The alarm rang.

Jamie turned and left the bed.

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