There are, I believe, two diametrically opposed elements that narrate our desire to keep coming back to each other.
One is our not even remotely knowing each other.
And the other is knowing each other so completely.
He’s allowed one overnight visit every four to six weeks. Today he showed up after an absence of 21 days.
“That’s cheating,” I wanted to say.
But I didn’t.
When I am quiet and submissive, I am never sure if I am being considerate of his feelings— his life—or my own.
“There’s no food in the house,” I tell him.
“I didn’t come for the food.”
After he rests, we go out for dinner.
The hostess leads us to a table with two chairs opposite a booth. My son and I slide into the booth side.
“Are you all right with a chair?” I ask him, after the fact.
He closes his wide hands over the chair’s crest.
“Do you want the booth?”
He’s huge. Not just his physical body, but something about his presence. He towers over the young hostess, who is nervously waiting on us to get settled.
Eyes never leaving mine, he pulls out his chair and sits.
“I like this side,” he says, as our hostess relaxes slightly and starts to hand us our menus.
And then, “It reminds me of my time in prison.”
The sweet hostess turns and stares nakedly at him for a fraction of a second before blushing and hastening away.
I spread my napkin slowly across my lap, smoothing the soft fabric with my fingertips, fighting the tug at mouth’s corners.
When I gain enough composure to look up, I realize he has been staring at me the whole while, awaiting my reaction to his little performance.
This is a perfect example of our intimacy. A joke that makes no sense whatsoever, played on the unsuspecting, simply so that we can be pulled closer in each other’s orbit.
How pleased with himself he looks. And how it tears at my heart to see his looking such.
I can’t conceive of what I’d think of him now, had I not known him then.
Sometimes I try.
“Would I like you if I were meeting you for the first time?” I asked once, out loud.
“I doubt it,” he answered honestly and, probably, accurately.
He sleeps with his hands balled up in angry fists. He claims that he spent our years apart in the arms of whores. He’s abrasive and ill-tempered almost all of the time.
But somehow, when I look, I still see adorable innocence spilled all over him.