I want to wash his hair for him.
I want to pull him out of his clothes and ask him to sit in the bathtub. I imagine him there cross-legged; not hard, not self-conscious about me seeing him soft.
I want to tip his head back slightly, gently into the shower stream. Kneeling behind him as he closes his eyes. A good shampoo—sweet-smelling but sharp, peppermint or grapefruit or something like that.
I want to comb the lather through with my fingers and rinse it out again and again and again, my nails firm against his scalp but not too hard.
I want to take a long time with it, neither of us saying anything, just the white noise of the water like rain.
I want to watch the suds slide down his back, iridescent and crystalline, melting away.
I want him to trust me. I won’t get soap in his eyes.
I want him to tell me it felt good, or nice, or if he had a bad day even just: better.
I want his skin to be warm and his hands all wrinkled; mine too.
I want to get into bed and hold him, facing each other on our sides. My arm around him so my fingertips can kiss each vertebra up and down his spine. My head against his chest so I can feel his heart like the sure wingbeats of a great bird soaring.
I want him to fall asleep like this, and later me too, after I lie there a while, listening to his steady breathing, looking through the benevolent dark at his beautiful hair, drying against the pillow, strong and safe.
I want to tell him I love him quietly enough that he might hear it in his dreams.
Rachel Anne Cantor is a children’s book author and works in academic publishing. She lives in Brooklyn.