Their bed is unmade and his pillow, with its smell of tobacco and sweat, has not felt his smooth weight in days. Through endless nights, she tosses in shivering sheets. Perfectly good meals lay untouched on the kitchen table and she wishes love could be sifted from fish bones.
She imagines him leaning across the table, cupping her face in his hands and telling her yes, the salmon was good, the Pinot smooth, and she would see desire mirrored in his eyes.
It ended. She doesn’t know why.
Down the street, clothes hanging on lines are slapping in a stinging wind. The purr of lawnmowers and keys turning in locks are soothing suburban sounds to her. On every street there’s a woman like Ruth, who lives at number 8, and bakes the best buttery scones.
She watches Ruth now, carrying her basket, and hears the ghost of polite conversation between them. Can I help you take in your shopping? he says. Her dusty voice asking whether he’d like a cup of tea, as a thanks for his kindness. The jug boils, legs entwine and lips explore.
She wonders if they talk about plans for the future, with their heads close together, pushing her into the margins of new stories they are creating.
She sees the curve of Ruth’s belly. How could she prepare for this bitter day?
She rinses the dishes; looking for the answer. She wishes sleep would return, lets out a breath and picks up a pen. She draws some paper towards her and looks at the blood red dahlias in a vase on the kitchen windowsill.