He says she’s guarded, that she’s got armor.
But that doesn’t sound like her. Her words are more like . . .
Poise. And subterfuge.
She’s perched in his windowsill, writing. The house is old. It’s early morning and there is spring snow falling, uncertain in its descent.
She left the house early for coffee.
“Lie with me, your hand on my chest, for just half an hour more. Is that too much to ask?” he asked, when he caught her getting out of bed.
Because he actually talks like that.
“But I’m not sleepy,” she answered, and he laughed.
“Five minutes. Please. Let me just have a dream while you’re next to me.”
So she let him.
Meanwhile noticing how good she’d gotten at being still.
She’s not sure when that even happened. She used to be so restless.
And she couldn’t feign anything, least of all stasis.
After he fell back asleep, she snuck out through the old-fashioned mudroom in the back, and it screamed at her in deja vu.
“Do you remember?”
She does, but she doesn’t.
Even before closing the door, the cold new morning assaulted her like a safeguarded lover. Kissing her, adoring her, putting a blush on her cheeks.
And at the cafe, she was careful not to make eye contact.
Then the return, and she’s sitting there in his window when he wakes up and comes in, looking so confused, perhaps frustrated, and says, “I think I’m late. That’s not like me.”
And she thinks, “Oh, is this real life? I thought…”
She’s smoking a cigarette, the old window is drawn high on its strange and lovely pulley rope, she’s sitting half-out and half-in, is madly in love with herself.
The lilacs in bloom half-covered in snow.
“Throw me the lighter, will you?” he asks, and there’s a brusqueness about it that borders on rude.
She draws herself down from the window and walks it over to him, wondering if she should leave now, in order to perhaps be able to still come back.
But she really doesn’t want to go.
“I’ll make it all now, about this one morning,” she thinks.
Because she’s just so terribly happy sitting in the window, wasting his heat.
Not to mention that last night he told her that she wasn’t to leave until she was given permission.
And as far as she can tell, she hasn’t been.
He goes away and she’s glad, even though the whole scene actually revolves around him.
Her writing would have no meaning if he weren’t its content.
The old house she would still love, but her intimacy with it would run only half as deep.
It’s her grandmother’s house.
And she’s in a cloud of ecstasy of feeling at once both comforted and abstractly out-of-place.
Later he strides back through, shirt off, his body its own infatuation, coming over to next to her to pull her hair, look over her shoulder.
“What is that?” He indicates her indecipherable scrawl with his cigarette. “Arabic?”
She closes the composition book and runs a cheek along his belly. His skin is ridiculously soft, really.
Unless it’s hers.
“I’m going to grab a shower,” he tells her, still existing just outside of the dream she’s in.
What happened to those beautiful french bath salts, scientific drawings of flowers on the labels, that used to be in the bathroom?
She loved the house more than she loved her grandmother.
But she couldn’t have loved one without the other.
It’s all so much the same, but so very different.
“May I come in and watch you?” she asks. “When I finish writing?”
“By all means.”
She waits a while. Part of her reluctant to leave her post. But eventually she passes through the memory that is the house again, and enters the steamy bathroom.
She’s fully dressed. Stockings, skirt, camisole, cowl-neck sweater. Although her hair is not done. It’s a wild child’s rat’s nest.
When she pulls back the curtain she knows what to expect, but she’s not prepared for the way his body looks wet. Phantasmagorically alive with moisture.
And it’s just too much.
She sinks to her knees on the side of the tub and rests her forehead against his torso as he turns to her, reaches out her tongue to taste the warm water, her innocence and his skin.