Gather Us with Dawn
Moonlight seeps through the curtains on nights like these, sifting like sand through the thin white material. Ed sits on the sill, pillow shoved behind his back, chain-smoking and squinting at some incomprehensible text in the half-light. There’s a draft.
“Can’t you sleep?” Roy asks.
“No,” Ed mumbles.
“You should turn on the light, then,” Roy says. “You’ll ruin your eyes.”
“Fuck off, mom,” Ed says. “It’s almost dawn anyway.” The sky is turning gray in the east, visible over the dark rooftops. There’s a soft murmur coming from the streets below as the city slowly wakes up, rising up into the air on a gentle swell. Roy levers himself out of bed, wincing as his bare feet hit the cold hardwood floors. His knee bothers him on mornings like this, the chill soaking through the flesh and wrapping bitter fingers around brittle bones. He straightens up and walks it out.
Ed’s already wearing Roy's favorite sweater, brown wool hanging off one shoulder and hands half-hidden in the sleeves. Roy shrugs on an orange and yellow monstrosity that Hughes gave him as a gag gift a decade ago and goes downstairs to fix breakfast. He sets out the orange juice because he knows Ed will drink it if it’s put in front of him and puts the coffee on. The newspaper is on the front porch but he decides not to bring it in just yet.
Ed wanders down eventually, still squinting at the book. He closes it when he runs into the table, picks up the glass of orange juice and downs it all in one swallow.
“I think maybe you might need glasses,” Roy says. He takes out the eggs and cracks them open into the frying pan, watching the oil hiss and fizzle and the clear portions slowly turn white. It astounds him every day that Ed will throw hissy fits over something that comes out of a cow’s tits and has no problem eating something that essentially comes out of a chicken’s ass.
“Like hell I do,” Ed says, leaning over to track the progress of breakfast. A couple of strands of his hair escape their loose ponytail and sway dangerously close to the flame. He pushes them back impatiently. “You’re the old one. Where’s my coffee mug?” Roy nods towards the drying rack and Ed digs it out, pausing on the way to shove some bread in the toaster. The eggs are runny, but Roy dumps them on the plates anyway as the bread pops up, steaming lightly. Ed likes to fold up his toast and drag it through the yolks.
Roy picks at his own plate sedately, watching Ed wolf down his portion. Ed’s done in two minutes, placing his empty plate in the sink and picking up his book again. The coffee’s ready now, and Ed pours himself a cup and dumps probably five tablespoons of sugar in it, then wanders distractedly back out of the kitchen. Roy thinks he’ll probably find Ed on the stairwell in a few minutes, sitting somewhere in the middle because he’s forgotten to go all the way back up. He decides to fetch the newspaper. The sky is fading into a soft blue. “Good morning,” his neighbor says, and Roy smiles because it is.