Days, weeks, months later we were still intertwined; her toothbrush stood stoically in the holder on my bathroom sink, remnants of her hairspray textured the mirror, soft threads of her hair stuck quietly to my pillowcase. No cigarettes. That afternoon on the corner by the bar, when she’d searched my face and struggled to remember, had faded to the black smoke of a dying fire, dreamlike.
When Lily moved in the cardboard boxes that held her belongings sat like an Egyptian pyramid for days in the front hall. She’d move from one to another when she needed something, like a hair brush or a t-shirt.
“Why don’t you get to unpacking those?” I mentioned one morning, pouring coffee into my favorite chipped mug while she sat cross-legged in one of my work shirts. “I’ll help, you know that.”
She flipped her hair to one side of her perfect moon face and peeked at me from behind a curtain of brunette. She said nothing, only smirked in some wicked, confident way, and went on leaving coffee rings on the kitchen counter. Ever smitten with her abruptness I peeled opened the refrigerator, grabbed the carton of eggs, and cracked open my uneasiness in a mixing bowl.
Lily loved me, I could feel it. I felt it in the warmth she left behind in every room of our home, in the steadiness of her breath at night, when there was nothing left but us, darkness; I inhaled it in fresh pots of coffee and the sweet, familiar perfume she seemed to wear permanently. So when she came to me, months after she’d moved in, and told me she needed to leave for a few days – she mentioned the ocean, vastness, something about meditation – I focused on the way she cupped my hand in hers instead of the idea that she was leaving me. My smile and nod had proven as heavy as the signing of my own signature, and from there our life continued in that perfectly stitched, undulating way that unspoken secrets between lovers allowed it to do.
Lily with her weekly leaving, me with my faulty, stubborn unknowingness.
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