I was shoulder-deep in my closet, quietly fishing for a shirt I wouldn’t need to iron, when his alarm clock went off.

He raised himself slowly on his elbows and turned to me and said, “Honey. Are you gonna talk about the project at all?”

His voice was thick and slow, but the words were careful and clear. I hardly knew what to say in response.

“Talk about the project?”

“Yeah,” he said, emphatically gesturing toward the alarm clock.

He wants me to turn it off, I guessed. The sound was wrenching him from sleep, but it wasn’t enough to pull him through to awake.

I walked over and tapped the snooze button, and he crumbled, like I’d just pulled the cord on him, and fell immediately back to sleep.

“Time to wake up,” I said, gently massaging his shoulder.

He rolled over. “Um, you should call Texas and find out what the story’s gonna be,” he said.

Oh, man. Where the heck was he? “You’re delirious,” I said.

Frustration showed through on his face — frustration with himself or with me, or with the fact of waking up? “No. Bromine…,” he protested. And then he trailed off and sank back down.


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the untallied hours

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