I almost lost Justin this year.
I remember the smell in the hospital. Disinfectant and the sweaty smell of people. I heard the doctor's boots squeak down the hall before he came up to me and took my hand. He smelled of blood and cheap soap. His hands were gnarled and hairy. I suspected his age was about 50.
"Lydia," he said in his somber voice. I knew that he was frowning. "We almost lost him, dear. He might pull through, but we're still not sure."
My legs moved together unbidden and I felt the scratchy fabric of the chair rub against them.
"I want to see him." I felt silly after saying it. I would never see him. I lost my sight when I was 10 years old. The doctor didn't say anything, however, and led me down to Justin's room.
Justin did pull through. His room smelled of cinnamon whenever I came to visit. I suspected that the nurses found out his love of cinnamon applesauce and fed it to him whenever his stomach rumbled. I came to know the room very well and could find my way around it, even without my parents' help. I felt young and helpless again with them around, having not relied on their help since Justin and I had been married two years before.
Justin came home a few weeks after his surgery, back to normal. Mornings at our house are pretty much the same as they were before, but now I revel in all the things I notice about him. All of the things that I almost lost.
I rub my eyes as I wake up. I don't really need to, as my eyes would not benefit from it. I simply do it. Just as one would always push on their nose, even if they're not wearing their glasses. It is one of my reflexes that reminds me that once I saw the world as others see it. Now I see it as it should be seen.
Warmth on my face tells me that the sun has risen. I stretch out my arm to Justin's side of the bed. He is not there. I hear rustling in the hallway and the soft pitter patter of feet. He went to get the paper before his shower.
I get up and pull my hair back into a ponytail with one of the rubberbands I keep on my wrist. I feel my pants have shifted while I slept. I adjust them and walk towards my dresser. I slip on my wedding ring and leave the room.
I continue down the hallway past the bathroom. I hear a tinkling coming from it. Justin is using the bathroom before he takes a shower. I touch the door in silent appreciation. It may seem strange to find happiness in something such as that. It gives me a sense that he is still alive. Still with me. It reminds me that he is here.
The soft tinkling is replaced with the noise of the shower. I open the door and step inside. The air is filled with hot steam and room smells like Justin. I have my shirt and pants off before Justin sees me.
"Lydia? This isn't your normal route."
I smile at his teasing as I slip off my underwear and walk to the shower. I keep my schedule very strict. I have to. If I get hurt, it throws my schedule off and people automatically know that something is wrong.
I open the door and step in. The door closes by its own accord and I reach out for Justin. My hand feels his hand first. He is reaching for me as well. As I walk closer, the shower sprays on me and gets me wet. Justin laughs and brushes hair out of my face.
"I wanted to be with you," I say softly. I know that he understands.
He is silent as I run my hands over him. His body is wet, but still warm. I stand a foot away, not yet close enough to feel him flush against me.
I feel his bicep, ripped and strong. He stays strong for me. Should I fall and hurt myself, he must be able to carry me. I run my hands up his broad shoulders. He could have been a sports player and played any sport he wanted professionally. He is well built for it. He gave that up for me. I feel his pulse on his neck. It beats fast. He is excited. By his pulse, I know that he is here.
When I reach his face, he pulls me to him and kisses my nose. He kisses my nose first so I know where his face is. He moves down to my lips. Our kiss is passionate. It reminds me that he loves me and would never willingly leave me.
I can feel Justin's member against me as he accidentally pushes me further under the showerhead. It reminds me that he is here.
The water sprays onto our heads and drips down our bodies. He presses me against the wall in the shower and kisses my neck. I make small noises of pleasure and I feel his member harden.
I rock my hips a few times against his member. He moans against my neck. I smile. His noises remind me that he is here.
"You tease," Justin says softly. Justin would never make love to me in the shower.
I hear him pick up a bottle of shampoo and open it. I tilt my head up so he can wash my hair. His fingers tingle as they rub the shampoo into my scalp. The shampoo smells like coconuts. He pulls me forward to wash the shampoo out. I feel it run down my face and press my lips together so it won't run into my mouth.
Justin's hair smells like peaches, so I know that he's already washed his hair. He turns the water off and takes my hand. I follow him to the cupboard and he gets me a towel to dry off with. I dry off and wrap the towel around me. I lead the way to our bedroom and we dress for the day. My clothes smell like Downy detergent. Justin smells like cinnamon.
I leave the room without him and walk to the stairs. I count them as I walk down.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.
My feet feel the soft carpet and I turn right. The kitchen smells like warm baked bread. I can hear our cook and cleaning lady bustling about in the cabinets.
Justin hired a cook for us, not because we were rich, but he worked in the study all day and I could not cook safely without him. I also could not clean.
"Hello, Miss Lydia. Went off our schedule today, did we?" I felt Annie's coy smile. She knew what we were doing. "Your coffee got cold, so I put it in the microwave."
I walk to the microwave and take out my cup. I sip it as I hear Annie setting plates down on the bar. I walk to my stool and sit down. I smell syrup, peanut butter and strawberries. Pancakes. I set my cup down and pick up my fork.
"Hello, Annie. How are you?" I hear Justin walk in and kiss Annie on the cheek. Annie walks behind me and I smell rosemary. Justin sits down next to me and I hear his sleeve rustle. I slap his hand before he can grab one of my strawberries.
"Now, Justin. I smelled your blueberries on your plate. You eat those and leave my strawberries alone." I smile and put his arm in his lap. He leans over and kisses my nose.
"You never let me have your strawberries," he pouts. I know he is playing.
I start eating. When my plate is almost empty, I notice something. Annie's cooking smells of onions, usually something she only cooks at dinner. Justin's breathing is labored, as if he is tired.
"Justin, you evil!"
"What?" he says with pancake in his mouth.
"You let me sleep late! It is almost dinnertime!"
Justin laughs and kisses my nose again.
"She always figures it out, Annie. I don't know how she does it!"
I lightly hit Justin's shoulder. The only way he can prank me is if he lets me sleep late. I am not upset. That is the way Justin is. I smile. He did it on purpose. His pranks remind me that he is here.
After lunch, I sit by Justin in the living room as he watches the television. His arm is wrapped around me and my hand is on his knee. I smell the ink from the newspaper somewhere. Justin forgot to recycle it.
Justin laughs every few minutes at his show. I don't listen to it. I only enjoy sitting with him. The television never brought me much joy.
I rest my head on Justin's chest. His warmth makes me sleepy. I wrap my arm around his stomach. I slowly drift off to sleep listening to his heartbeat.
It reminds me that he is here with me. He is my security. He gives me sight in my world of darkness. It is because of him that my world is the way that it is.
Without him.... I would be blind.