They were close to calling it quits.
I wasn’t around when they couldn’t stop staring at each other, when they still absently stroked each other’s neck while running Saturday morning errands. I showed up after he said maybe we should take a break, after she said maybe we should, after they both forgot what they were mad about.
She cradles her belly in front of department store mirrors, smooths her fingers over the soft cotton of her oversized blouse. Whispers, hello in there. A passing shopper smiles and their faces break open in wide smiles back. It’s our first. We never thought it would happen for us.
What they mean by this is: We never thought we’d last.
Sometimes I’m wide awake as she dreams of strange things strung together. Woodsmoke and wild mint, apricots stuck to fresh blacktop. She worries it’s their past, seeping into my cells, my eyelashes, my fingernails as small as dust mites. What if she isn’t enough to hold us?, she cries, so softly he’ll have to put his ear to her lips. Shhh, rest, and he kisses her eyelids, the tip of her nose.
I tuck my legs under my chin and go back to sleep. There’s so much I need to show them.
All of us are doomed to leave again anyway. Pinch every star, stuff them in pockets and cubbyholes.
The neighbor’s dog, thick fur smelling of warm earth and clover honey; my scraped knees as I learn to ride the bike with the little bell and sparkle tassels. He, gently pulling her away my first day of kindergarten, tears welling in their eyes as I wail and shake off the teacher’s soft hands. A mayo jar of blinking fireflies in July.
Link their hands in the kitchen on a rainy night, watch them dance. Hog the popcorn bowl on movie nights, steal Park Place every game night. Tie black-eyed Susans and yarrow with a ribbon, say Ta-da! as I set the bouquets on their knees. Point at the blueberry bush, the buntings bluer than the sky and the sea, the cottonwood seeds floating past our faces like snowflakes.
Cup their cheeks in my hands. Say, What was all the fuss about before?
Say, This! Isn’t this beautiful? And that! Isn’t that beautiful too?
Say, See? I need you to see before it’s all gone.
About The Author
L Mari Harris’s most recent work has appeared in (mac)ro(mic), Pithead Chapel, Tiny Molecules, and XRAY Lit, among others. She lives in the Ozarks. Follow her on Twitter @lmariharris and read more of her work at http://www.lmariharris.wordpress.com
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