i knew something was shifting when you looked over my shoulder and started laughing at the dancing woman on the wall.

the lightness surprised me. distracted from the story so far i imagined that your release was imminent. i should call ma to come and get you. call my sis, no worries, he’s good.

soft focus set into hard truth.

your clothes folded and stacked on a stool. your slippers, hopeful add-ons for this stay stood by the door. mobile phone, glasses, and car keys near the door, well out of reach.

at first I couldn’t look away. i was transfixed by the tubes and wires streaming your details into the hundred machines surrounding us.

when i looked at the blank wall i didn’t see the dancing woman. and i wanted to tell you that, but the you that was there was suddenly different.

you were you again.

sad eyes.

looking at me with fatigue.

the smirk and mirth gone.

fear, maybe anger pursed your brow.

i wondered if there was a way to live between the you that saw dancing phantoms and the you in the bed with tubes and timers tracking your peace.

the question never surfaced. the chance didn’t come up again.

you stopped seeing mirages.

the slippers were never used.