I sit in a building that has numbers for each floor and my name, in small black letters, right next to the door. I walk between people; call their numbers; smile and laugh. The laughs don’t linger. Those rare visitors, their smiles don’t stay; their smiles, when they leave the room, fade away. Between people; friends with all. And yet, at heart, connected with none.
There are no sirens anymore and no planes anymore. The explosions have stopped and I sit and I wait. “She will come back,” says grandma. “Just you wait and see.” I smile and I nod and I wait. “She’s a smart dog,” says my grandma. “She’ll find her way back.” I nod and I watch the smoke. And I wait until darkness. And I wait the next day. And I wait until night. The house smells of onions and smoke. A hand on my shoulder. “Come to dinner,” says grandma. “And don’t be sad. She’s with your mommy now.”
The bus turns left. Another man’s body pushes hard against mine. Warm, soft, alive. He doesn’t apologize. I don’t say a word. I don’t look at his face. The bus stops and he takes his bag and rushes through the door. His smell lingers. On my way home I think of him, feel his warmth, smell his sweat. My first friend in months, since that old lady at the supermarket smiled at me.
A tune that I remember. A flock of pigeons that we fed. The sheets that we last used together. They call you in my head. Shampoo – the soft hair on your skin. A pillow – your head, hard and warm against my shoulder. My bed – the angry eyes; the open mouth with which you screamed at me. I’m sorry. I hope you’re well. I hope you’re happy. I hope that, a year from now, or five, or ten, you can forget me. I hope that, ten years from now, you won’t hate me anymore.
The red cloth fell softly down her sides. I stepped closer. Grins drilled deep into my neck. I tapped on her shoulder. The white of her cheeks grew red. I asked for a dance. She glanced around. Laughter behind me. She bit her lip. Her eyes met mine. “Okay,” she said. Her skin felt warm and soft. My hand pulled hers towards the circle at the center of the room. She smiled. My hand gently on her waist. Hers on my shoulder. Blond hair swaying from side to side with every step. The laughter stopped.
I stood up when the doctor stepped into the room. “It’s nice to see you again,” he said. His hand was cold. He glanced at the gray clipboard. “When is your child due again?” I asked. He looked up. “Two months,” he said. I smiled. “So soon? I’d like to buy her a gift,” I said. “To thank you for all that you’ve done for me.” His hands sank. He looked past me. “That’s not necessary,” he said. “And it won’t be possible.”