It was a habit of mine, as a kid, to sleep with the window hanging wide open. The frame creaking on rusted hinges as it swung back and forth, pushed along by the evening Autumn wind. I’d listen to the sound of leaves rustling. Smell the faint sent of bark peeling from the aged oak, its branches stretched out, reaching towards me in the dark, casting twisted shadows on the walls of my bedroom.
The whistling wind whispered a melody into my ears, lulling me to sleep as the first hint of rain wafted through the open window, tickling my senses. The air felt electric and, as the first drops fell, pattering, splattering, against the window pane…the roof…my skin, I would breathe in the cool breeze.
White chips of paint collected along the sill from years of wear. Opening and shutting. Rain. Dew. Condensation, had all left the wood swollen and bubbled in places, with faded brown peeking through portions of missing, flaked, white. When I was bored, I’d pick at the paint, sometimes lifting long sections away. I’d make a game of it, seeing how much I could peel back before the piece of old paint fractured and broke delicately between my fingertips.
Sometimes, light would flash overhead, a bolt of bright, brilliant blue, illuminating the sky brighter than any firework and, almost immediately, a deep rumble of thunder would follow that shook the very ground.
I never slept so well than on nights like those. Nights where the earth herself would sing me her lullaby. Peace. Serenity. Tranquility. No matter where I was, the night air would wrap me up in its arms and hold me, rock me, til I fell asleep, soothed by the sounds and smells of the earth.
I lean out over the windowsill, perhaps a little further than is safe, my head hanging out the window. The old oak is gone now, cut into pieces and taken away; the years of climbing its limbs, swinging from its branches, the age of childhood laughter, of youthful adventure, are all behind me now. The frame has since been sanded now, repainted with a fresh coat of pale yellow to replace the white. The wind that blows now, billowing against the curtains, caressing my cheeks, doesn’t soothe me the way it once did. I breathe deeply, my eyes closed, trying to recall the scent of oak, the sound of rustling leaves, the feeling of electricity sending goosebumps up my arms and making my hair stand on end, but it’s gone now, replaced with thoughts of memos and calendars and deadlines and due dates. And the only arms embracing me come from those of my lover as she wraps them around me, her skin soft and warm.
“Can’t sleep?” she asks me, her voice a gentle whisper. When I don’t respond, she presses a tender kiss to my skin. “Come back to bed.
“And close the window.”