“So, what are you thinking?”
Raindrops clattered rough against the tin roof, and she parted her lips to speak again but her words faltered. A thin frame of light shone on her from the open window across from us.
I watched her chest rise and fall as her breathing quickened with anticipation. So many things could be said - should be said - but nothing came to mind.
We were still the way we had been for so many years, just trying to get by and find ways to make bad days easier, but time had changed so many things and we were no exception to its cruelty.
I started off with “I think,” but the words were too stale on my tongue already. I paused to lean over and retrieve the pack of Marlboros inside the pocket of my discarded button down.
I took a cigarette from the pack and ran it across my fingers for a few moments before lighting it and taking a long drag.
The smoke in my lungs somehow seemed cleaner than the words I was going to have to say to her.
“I think we both know that last night changes nothing.”
She pursed her lips and shut her eyes tight, and I watched as a trail of goosebumps covered her exposed arms and shoulders.
Some part of me expected her to object, to say something spiteful in return, or to try to act as though she was not upset with the change in our status.
We had an odd way of showing affection, though nowadays I don’t think I can even call it affection at all. Still, in a way I expected it to continue, even in our final moments.
Instead, she put out her fingers and huffed at me, so I passed my cigarette and we sat in silence for a long time listening to the sound of the storm and smoking together.
After a while she sat up and forcibly ground the ashes into the crystal ash tray kept beside her mattress and looked me in the face for the first time in hours.
God, she was beautiful.
“I do love you, you know.” She muttered, her teeth gritted.
I nodded, reached a hand up to push a stray hair from her forehead, and ran my fingers down the length of her arm.
“Always,” I replied, though even I can’t tell you if I was giving her an answer or asking her a question.
She got up from the mattress then and tiptoed her way over to the window, resting her arms on the sill.
In a way I felt obligated to follow her, and the bed creaked beneath my weight much like the floor beneath my feet.
When I got to her, a breeze blew past from the lakes up north and sent a spray of cool rainwater through the window onto her and I, and I wrapped my arms around her shoulders.
I wondered why the entirety of life couldn’t be as simple as that one moment.
I felt her breath catch in her chest when we interlocked fingers and I knew there was nothing that could truly fix the tension between us.
“Do you think… if we had met a few years… earlier,” She pleaded, “we could have… made things work?”
I pulled my hands away from her, away from the questions of ‘what if,’ and gathered my clothing from her floor.
I never liked to think in terms of the past, there were far too many things I had done that I regretted and far too many things I hadn’t done for which I felt the same.
She never turned to watch me or ask what I was doing, though I do wonder if she was content with watching the rain fall outside, or if she closed her eyes and continued fantasizing possibilities.
Somewhere in the pocket of my jeans was a note, scrawled in running red ink on a restaurant napkin. It was covered in a coffee stain and drops of rain and I had crumpled it up into fifths.
When I pulled it out, I felt my own hesitation and had to unfold it slowly to watch each word take shape before I read it in full, five times over.
"Meet With Me? October 20, 2061 Our Spot"
Penned after several cocktails and a few too many bad decisions, it was difficult to determine if the thoughts of an intoxicated self were to be trusted.
In the end I put it on her pillow, but who knows if I’ll really be there when the day comes.