“He’s gone,” I say. “He’s not coming back.”
Silence is a condition of my being here and I meant to keep my promise. It’s the yearning in her half open mouth that prised the words from me. That and the way she’s leaning forward on the chair, looking more like a woman anticipating the return of something than remembering its loss.
She doesn’t react so I go back to watching her. An activity I’ll never tire of. I’ve never seen her in a short dress before. Her reverie is so deep that she doesn’t notice my gaze stroking limbs she’s liberated from her sensible trouser suits.
I enjoy the freedom until it dawns on me that the dress is part of her annual ritual. If it’s significant, it must be because she was wearing it last time she saw him.
As I make sense of her ritual, I understand why she’s watching the street through the gap between two buildings rather than sitting at the window that overlooks it. When she’d watched him leave, she hadn’t wanted him to see her watching.
I’d hoped to move a step closer to her by sharing her ritual. Instead, I feel the distance between us become tangible, as though the past has lowered a pane of glass into the room.
A sigh forces its way up from my chest before I can stop it. Or perhaps it was a sob.
Her eyebrow drops. She didn’t hear my voice, but my emotion disturbs her.
“I think you should go.” She speaks from across the room and ten years ago. “I need to be alone.”
She doesn’t just mean for today. She means forever.