Two Stories

certain yet soft as sky

He hasn’t smelled my hair in a while.

He hasn’t slammed doors. He just leaves quietly after a fight. And two meals later, both of us start talking normally as if disposing the evidence of the last argument.

He hasn’t commented on our updated relationship status on Facebook. But he was the first one to like it.

He hasn’t shown me what he writes. Not all of it. Even when he does, I feel some of the words lift and circle over my head like air.

He hasn’t used a separate blanket since last Thanksgiving when I had the miscarriage. He sleeps with his hands on my belly as if protecting everything that ever came from him.

He hasn’t complained about the open toothpaste or my hair-infested combs lying in his drawers. He lets them mingle with his shaving brush. Like sharing the details our fingers cannot reach.

He hasn’t fiddled with the remote while I am watching the tube. Perhaps it is a sign of giving in, or giving up.

He hasn’t locked his email since the last blackout, six months ago.

He hasn’t presented me with a ring. But twenty-one months of sharing a toilet and closet space is as close as one can ever get to a marriage. They say twenty-one is the magic number to form or break a habit.

He hasn’t refused when I suggested taking a sabbatical and going around the world. Even if it means staying sedated all the way because he is scared to fly.

He hasn’t talked in his sleep. He hasn’t given up smoking. Sometimes, I see him standing in the patio, blowing away rings of smoke, smiling to himself like a man who has finished his work, settled his debts. Like a man who is certain yet soft as sky—infinite in its possibilities.

As if he heard me

My husband is in love again. I watch him groom. He is trimming his nails, dying his hair brown. He is using my sink.

I pick up his phone, there is no password. I go through his texts, see pictures of women. Black hair, short dresses, wide smiles. I follow him.

She is waiting for him in a motel not too far from our home. When she sees him, she shakes her head and he smiles. He pulls her close and kisses her. Her mouth half-open, like a baby bird.

He is already in the shower when I get home. Singing like a boy who just lost his virginity.

The woman fades away. But I know there are others. I lie in my bed, awake, knowing that I can-not leave. This is my home; this is where I will always be. It does not feel wrong to be here and yet it does. Far away, a train is rumbling. I shudder to its rhythm.

Tonight he is going back to her. I draw her on the cover of a magazine in my room, then I draw him, next to her. I want to touch her face and everywhere else he has touched her. Maybe even make love to her. Hold her hands.

I can hear the train gliding into a station, coming to a stop.

It is already dusk when he calls my name. More like a whisper. I go past the hallway, down the stairs towards our bedroom. The door is slightly open and I see him sitting on our bed, holding a pair of socks, staring at the evergreens in the backyard. I am unable to concentrate on anything but the shape of his head. And I want to remove myself from that hellhole. He looks in my direction as if he heard me. The muscles in his neck tighten, his fingers curl and then he goes back to looking outside the window as if he missed something.  

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