Before and After…

I know he’s drunk when he starts reading me poetry. John Koethe, Wisława Szymborska. From there it’s only a skip to Hegel or Proust — poetry through prose and philosophy, he says — and my eyes glaze over. They cling to the periphery, admiring the smoke coming from his nostrils as he exhales.

All around me, there are bookshelves, overflowing with the written word. To sit, you must move Nabokov and Kundera off the chairs. It’s part of the decor.

I reach over his broad chest, bronzed from days of lazing poolside, and raise my wine glass from the bedside table to my lips, my fingers brushing his toned shoulders on their way back to me.

Mid-sentence, he stops. He makes a guttural sound from deep within his throat, just this side of a growl, before he drapes himself over me, the book tossed to the floor. His lips graze my neck, his breath warming my collarbone.

Nudging my legs apart, he holds himself still over me, so still, a photograph of perfection before my vision is obliterated with one violent thrust.

Then he’s in front of me, and I take him in until shudders wrack his strong frame.

It’s 3 a.m. Exhausted, happy, extremely adult, we sleep.


It’s 10:30 p.m., and he leads me up the stairs with a finger. I trip over Elmo and try not to crash into the Mega-Blok tower. I can feel Henry James and Ernest Hemingway shaking their heads at me from their storage boxes in the closet of our four-bedroom condo.

We stifle giggles like teenagers, even though I’m now 29, tiptoeing up the stairs. We have to be quick. We have to be quiet. We can’t wake them up.

We have to do it right now before one or both of us gets too tired. No wine. We need the energy to do this right tonight.

He tosses me on the bed without ceremony, wrenching off my jeans and cotton underwear. Are you ready?

Pushing me over the edge of the bed, I stare at him from an upside-down position. Okay, I can work with this. In and out, don’t forget to breathe. 

Thinking we’re safe, that they’re asleep, I let out a moan. We race toward climax, the bed frame shaking under us.

A moment of pause, a catch of the breath…

A serenade of Ariel’s song from The Little Mermaid coming from a bedroom downstairs. Coming from our three-year-old twins.

Collapsing with laughter, we take a break. Wait them out. They can’t “ahh ahh ahh” forever, can they? Maybe they had thought the same about us.

Silence from below.

We finish quick and dirty, no sound, no gymnastics. Slot it here, push it there, quiet surrender, off to the bathrooms.

Go check on the kids.

“Mommy, did you give your voice to the Sea Witch?”

“No, babies. Go to sleep.”

It’s just barely midnight. Exhausted, happy, extremely adult, we sleep.


Darlena Cunha is a former television producer turned freelance journalist and mom. She blogs daily at Parentwin and writes for TIME Magazine, The Washington Post, The Gainesville Sun and Gainesville and Ocala magazines, amid others. She’s been published in McSweeney’s, The Feminist Wire, Twins Magazine, and OffBeat Families plus many more. You can find her on Twitter @parentwin.  

Photo Credit: Maegan Tintari via Creative Commons 

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