Quiet Nights


By Jen


Luka loved these quiet nights with Elisabet, when the apartment was dark and still and the rest of the world had no claim on them.  He would sit in the overstuffed chair with her small hand resting lightly on his large one and whisper in her ear.  Silly things, light things, unimportant things; never about work, never about the hospital, never about his patients, never about his day.  Not even the funny stories, and sometimes there were funny stories, hard as it was to believe sometimes.  He didn’t want that hospital in this room with his Elisabet, so he would whisper stories and jokes and riddles.  Often he simply sat quiet and enjoyed the sensation of having her to himself.  Mostly she slept in his arms.  That was fine with him, that was perfect, she was perfect, these quiet nights were perfect.

He kept the room dark so as not to wake her.  It was never completely dark – the light from the city and the sky kept it from ever being completely dark.  And it was never fully silent – the sounds of the outside world sifted through the walls and the ceiling, the footsteps overhead, the barking dog, the siren, the sound of a train.  But it was dark enough and quiet enough for Luka.  No patients complaining.  No doctors yelling for assistance.   No nurses calling him to come again, yet again.  He would close his eyes and the day would slough off of him like he was shedding his skin and the soft smell of Elisabet would fill his nose and drive out the smell of hospitals and patients and antiseptic.  He loved these quiet nights with her.

He found himself again in these quiet nights with her.  He found himself and lost all the unimportant layers he had built up over the years and alone with her in these quiet nights life was simple and uncomplicated, so piercingly simple it broke his heart that he had wasted so many years making it so complicated.  He would stroke her cheek and kiss her forehead as softly as he dared and hope that she would keep sleeping and hope that she would wake and look at him with those eyes, those big happy eyes.

He was happy in these quiet nights with her in his arms.  The war was far away, the past far away, his memories far away, his mistakes far away, his ten years of running far away.  He would look at her and know he would never run again, would never leave the place where she was.  If he could spend the rest of his life in this chair with Elisabet sleeping in his arms he would be happy.  He had forgotten this deep happiness.  How could he have forgotten this feeling, he always wondered when he took her in his arms in the deep quiet night.  But of course he had forgotten, he had willed himself to forget, to remember it and not have it was more than a man could bear, more than a man should be asked to bear.  But now he was here, she was here, they were here together and she was his, and sometimes past and present loves would flood over him in these quiet nights and salty tears would cover his face and then he would hope Elisabet would keep sleeping, that he could just hold her like this with all the happiness a man could take and more reminding him of why he had struggled on from day to day to day for all those gray and empty years.  For this.  For this.  For her sweet soft face and her sweet soft hands and her sweet soft smell, for this.  In the back of his heart he had never given up on this.

He lived for these quiet nights with her.  He coveted these quiet nights with her and he guarded them jealously.  He wouldn’t respond to a page, he didn’t care what Kerry said the next morning, these were his quiet nights with Elisabet and nobody was going to take these moments away from him.  Not that it had ever happened yet, but he knew sooner or later something would come from the outside world to intrude on these quiet nights, that their number was limited, that Elisabet herself would put a stop to them as weeks turned to months and months to years, and so he took every single one he could get, these quiet nights with Elisabet when the room was as dark as he could make it and the night was as quiet as he could make it and he held her in his arms and listened peacefully to the sound of his daughter’s quiet breathing against his chest.

He loved these quiet nights with Elisabet.


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