My boss sent me an email today that required I pay "very close attention" to a car ad. Supposedly, if I looked closely, I would be able to see a ghost walking alongside the displayed car. I'm familiar with this email - it goes around every Halloween. You focus on whatever it is they tell you to focus on, you do as the email instructs and turn the volume up high to hear something "subtle" or "quiet" in the background, and then something scary pops up and frightens you. But I watched it anyway, expecting to be startled. I watched the car glide along a mountain road, I looked for the "ghost" that supposedly trails the car after it rounds a certain bend. I didn't see it. But then, out of nowhere, an obviously undead woman, with decaying teeth and rotted flesh, pops up smack in the middle of my screen and screams. I knew it, I'd been expecting it, but it still made me jump. It happens all the time: I prepare myself for it, I know it's coming, but still, it scares the shit out of me. But it's a good scare, the kind that makes you want to run through haunted houses, startled and screaming, knowing that you're going to come out alive even if the man with the chainsaw does chase after you. It gets your heart beating, your adrenaline rushing. You want to do it again and again.
Last night, when Billy got home from work, he kissed me and asked how my day was. We picked at leftovers from the previous night's dinner, and recounted the high- and low-lights of our workdays. We retired to bed early, him exhausted from a seven-day stretch of non-stop work, me exhausted from a relentless hour and fifteen minute step class and weight training. We sprawled out on top of the pillows and comforters and turned on the TV, too tired to change for bed. He rolled over, threw his long leg over my body and rested his head on my chest. "You smell so good," he said into my sweater. He took and deep breath in, and let it out slowly, his eyes closed. "See, I just need this when I get home from work."
"Do you mean you have to lie on my chest in particular?" I said, lifting my head up so that I could kiss the top of his head.
"Yes." He let out a contented sigh, and I felt his body relax into mine.
We lay like that for a moment or two, not even paying attention to the television. Then he looked up at me, put his hand on my face so that it cradled my jaw, the nape of my neck. He gave me a soft kiss on the mouth, then retreated only an inch or so, looking into my face. I willed myself to look back, to stare into his eyes just as long as he looked into mine. But it was overwhelming. I felt his gaze through my whole body, my stomach dropping out beneath me, my limbs tingling. Neither of us spoke, just looked at each other for a minute, smiling. We do that all the time, just take each other in, a staring contest of the best kind.
And each time we do, I'm overcome. I'm startled by how he makes me feel. And it happens every time. I'll prepare myself for it, I'll know it's coming, but still, it scares me. But it's a good scare, the kind that makes me want to bury myself in him, in us, gloriously weak in the knees and terrified of how I feel, knowing that I'm going to come out alive even if we part ways with my heart no longer intact. It gets my heart beating, my adrenaline rushing. I want to do it again and again.