Ten minutes later he was in bed. Mariam was wearing the type of dowdy, grey pyjama trousers and smock that, in his experience, most women wore in bed. He lay on his back, on the left-hand side of the bed, his side. Mariam was cuddled up next to him: her head lay on his right arm and chest, an arm stretched out over him, hugging him tight. He could feel her body move as she breathed deeply. He thought she was already asleep. For the first time in six weeks he felt at peace; his muscles relaxed, and his breathing came to follow Mariam’s slow rhythm. He lay still, listening to her breathe, and hearing the small, quiet sounds of the night around them: a car passing, an owl hooting, a dog barking three times, each bark a little quieter than the one before, a door shutting… He had a sense of him and Mariam forming a little circle, which was inside the bigger circle of the house, and that inside the circle of the block, and so on, until he could imagine the moon rising and the planets and the stars circling around them.
As he slowly slipped towards sleep, a thought came to him: sex? He knew that they would make love later, maybe a lot later, but it would happen. He reached out with his arm, and hugged Mariam closer to him. For the moment, they had something more important than sex.