her demon slayer

he woke up in the middle of the night,
every night,
as she writhed and moaned,
with beads of sweat over her forehead.
he touched her once,
to calm her down -
and she screamed,
a heart wrenching,
punch in the gut scream.
he was scared of her,
for her.
each morning she behaved normally
forgetting about her nightmare.
he did not remind her, either
he let her be,
let her go on about her day
as normally as she could.
he knew by now,
what to expect at nights
he watched her, stayed wide awake
and when the nightmare began
he switched on the air conditioning
to help with the sweating.
he waited for the writhing and moaning to stop -
for the nightmare to pass,
before closing his eyes to sleep
maintaining careful distance,
too scared that -
his touch might trigger another episode. 
one night, as the writhing started 
he whispered in her ear -
‘it is okay, you are safe, I am here for you’
and she seemed to relax
next night as the writhing started -
he whispered, 
‘I am going to wrap my arm around you now’
and he put an arm around her,
his hand resting on her left breast
he could feel her heart thudding against his palm
and then, he could feel it relax
he slept that night - 
with one hand on her breast
and one foot of his on one of hers.
he repeated this for several nights
watched her sleep after she calmed down
he never told her in the mornings
about what happened during the nights
he knew she was fighting a demon
and the demon had already ruined her nights
he did not want it to interfere with her days.
then, one night -
he moved closer to her as she slept
placed his hand on her left breast,
and one of his foot on one of hers
and kissed her on the lips -
and, she let him.
he knew that her struggle was not over, yet
but she had given him access
to her vulnerability.
he knew she was fighting a demon
and he was going to be her demon slayer.

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