I am waiting for him again.
I pass the window and try not to linger. Down on the avenue, the street lights have just come on. They cast an oily glow. The breeze floats through the windows, and with it the muted sounds of traffic and passerby.
The train is only a quarter mile from here, and he walks the distance to our flat briskly. I can see him from where I stand as he turns the corner.
He’s carrying a bag of groceries, and I’m glad for that. He’s paler and thinner than he used to be. I know how he is when he’s depressed. Food is an afterthought at best, until he becomes nearly sick with the need of it.
His steps hit the sidewalk with a solid, fast paced click. I like the sound. Those boots have lasted him many years, and each time they wear thin, he gets the soles redone.
He must be cold, though you wouldn’t know by his stance. He wears a leather jacket, t-shirt, and his favorite jeans. None of it warm enough in this weather. He exhales, and the cold air makes clouds of it.
He looks up. I would have held my breath if I were able.
His lips move, and I know the word that falls from them all too well.
He shrugs, and walks toward the steps of our building’s door.
Inside our flat, he pauses. I have seen this look on his face before. It shouldn’t hurt me so much. But somehow, it still does.
How am I supposed to get used to being felt and not seen? Or as time goes on will his sense of me fade too, as if I am nothing at all?
I stay the evening.
I watch. He cooks dinner and eats it alone. He retreats to the living room to watch television, his eyes glazed and weary.
I throw a glass to the floor, shattering it. He gets up from the living room to see what’s going on.
He cleans up the mess and stands.
“Evie, I know it’s you,” he says, barely above a whisper. “But I can’t go on like this. You have to leave. I’m sorry.”
His words hit me like a punch. I understand, but it doesn’t make things easier. Just a little longer, I plead.
He turns off the light, and I am left in darkness.
Later, he drifts to sleep.
I reach out to touch him. My fingers pass through his flesh.
I can feel his heart beating against my palm. It’s both joy and pain to feel this. I want him to live. But as long as he breathes, we can’t be together.
His heart flutters, like the wings of a bird.
Slowly, I move my hand, gripping his heart in my fist.
“I cannot come to you,” I whisper in his ear. “But you can come to me.”
©2010 Lori Titus