I think about him every once in awhile. Like picking a scab, tearing off the top layer just to make sure it’s still there and it still bleeds. It doesn’t hurt anymore. Not really. But seeing the red blood reminds me of when it did.
We drank beers together for three weeks. My punk, unkempt hair pushed out of my face with my right hand and my left hand’s fingers curled around a clove cigarette. Or a menthol, depending on who had what. Sitting at the table outside near the heater, his long, dirty blonde and wavy hair and intense blue eyes but mostly his Italian accent floating through the air, I thought I must be in heaven. That finally, I was safe. ‘Darling,’ he said ‘you are lovely.’ and I knew that soon I would tell him the secret in my heart wrapped under soft layers of rose-colored ribbons.
The next night when I showed up a few minutes late, my nose anticipating the musky scent of sweat, mud and grass on his shirt that I loved, I searched for his soccer socks, fresh from practice. I ordered a beer, sat outside and smoked alone while staring at the wrought iron fence. My chest turned slowly darker with every inhale and my tears dried on the exhale. The soft cushion surrounding my heart hardened into a brittle shell and then broke into a thousand pieces.
I look at the bleeding exposed spot of what was a few years ago, but feels like a hundred, and then my husband walks in, sits down next to me and holds my hand. His scent of aftershave and coconut shampoo combine in the air next to me and it makes me laugh. It’s the most delicious scent I’ve ever smelled. The feeling I thought was intense love for the foreign man was barely more than nothing. It was the shadow of nothing. And even though it felt like a skyscraper, it was a mud hut, but it took time to find that out.
My husband leans his arm into mine while we sit side by side on the couch. I’ve been crying, crying for no reason that anyone knows of, and he hands me the handkerchief he keeps in his pocket for just such an occasion. He turns and looks at me, in me. ‘You are lovely.‘ he says straight to my soul. And I know that right where I am is heaven. I know I’m safe and it doesn’t matter if I’m sick or not. If I’m rich or not. He loves me. It’s not a secret that I love him and daily he unwraps the ribbons laced softly around my heart.