SLEEP AID - ashley kaufman


ashley kaufman

He eavesdropped on a grey woman in widow's weeds in the produce section.

"Nights are the worst," she'd said, blindly fingering the webbing of a small, unripe-looking cantaloupe. "I don't sleep." Her companion, a tall, grim woman, nodded.

It was easy to find them. He read obituaries and sent survivors a discreet card. "Sleepmate Available, Inquire re: Rates, References Upon Request." He put his phone number and web address along the bottom. Then he waited.

He was a natural cuddler, but if the client asked him to turn away or hover on the edge of the bed, he accommodated. He even snored or ground his teeth, whatever they wanted. He made an effort to know them in order to satisfy their requirements. He took an explorer's view of each bedmate, noting the texture of her skin, the scent of her hair, the measure of her breath, how shyly she came to him, or how needily. He never intended to provide more than passive comfort, but if more than passive comfort was necessary, he found that he was able to oblige. It wasn't carnality so much as a covenant. His customers wanted sleep, and sleep was what he supplied.

Ashley Kaufman
Notes on a Scandal
Zoe Heller