"It's morning," he tells you, as if it isn't obvious enough with the sunlight streaming in through the curtains, and the birds chirping so loudly they could wake the dead.
You keep your eyes closed, focusing on the dark and hoping you might fall asleep again. "I don't want to move."
"It's almost seven. You're going to be late." He stands, the bed creaking under the shift in weight, and his footsteps thud away. You hear him shuffling around for a minute before coming back to sit down on the edge of the bed. He takes your face in his hands and plants a soft kiss on your cheek. "Come on. Let's go."
You shake your head slowly. "I can't." It takes effort to push the words past your throat—it takes effort to breathe. Your chest hurts, right in the center between your ribcage, next to your heart, and your fingers are cold—so cold you can't feel them.
"What do you mean?" he asks, patiently. "Are you sick?"
How can you put it so that he'll understand? You bite your lip, your eyes fluttering open momentarily to look at his face. He's gazing at you in the way that he does, his expression kind and gentle. It should make you feel better—that your boyfriend is so lovely and so sweet—but it doesn't. You can't remember what it's like to feel anything but the churn in your stomach; you can't remember the last time you wanted to get out of bed and go about doing whatever it is you used to do—you can't even remember what you used to do. Once upon a time, you might have done things, but it all seems like a lifetime ago, back when the sky wasn't this shade of blue and the clouds didn't cast shadows.
"I just can't," you say, finally, unable to find the right words.
"Here, I'll help." He reaches for your hands to pull you up.
"No," you say.
You let out a shallow breath. "How do you wake up in the morning?"
He opens his mouth to answer, and then pauses, his blonde eyebrows knitting together. It's not a random question, he realizes. The answer means something to you—he's just not sure what.
"Well," he says, carefully. "I'm not tired when I wake. Maybe you could go to sleep earlier?"
"I'm not tired," you say. "And I meant why, I think. Why do you wake up?"
"That's...that's what we do, isn't it? If we didn't wake up, we'd be asleep forever."
"Maybe I'm dying." It occurs to you that this is a possibility. "Maybe my body's giving up."
He blinks, alarmed. "What? Are you actually sick? Do you want to go—"
"Or maybe I'd rather die," you muse out loud.
He stares at you. "You want to die?" he says, strangely, as if the words don't make sense together. And maybe they don't—you can't understand them either.
"Not when you put it like that, I guess. But put another way…"
"I'm not sure…" he begins, uncomfortably. "Why…?" His shoulders are tensed, and you look past him to the clock on the wall, ticking away like a bomb. It's ten past seven, and in a few minutes, he's going to be late.
"Hah," you say, loudly, the sound tearing at your vocal cords. You swallow a cough, and give him a faint smile.
He flinches. "What?"
"I'm messing with you, babe," you say. Your voice is nearly drowned out by the birds outside the window, and you don't know if it's because they're so goddamn noisy, or if it's because you're whispering. "I have a headache. I think I'll stay home today."
His expression instantly melts, and he bites his lip, angling his body towards yours protectively. "Want me to take the day off? I can keep you company," he says, earnestly. "We can have a movie marathon and binge on popcorn."
"No, I'll be fine," you say. "Go before you piss off your boss."
"Alright." He stands reluctantly. "I'll see you later then. Take care."
You wave until he closes the bedroom door behind him, and then let your hand fall to your side.
"I will," you say, to the grey ceiling. "Don't worry."
You close your eyes.