The obituary page stared up at her from the foot of the bed. She looked at the faces of the
people pictured there: husbands, wives. One day her own photograph would be there, or
his. One day she would live alone, or he would.
And what then?
She would feed on remembering those skin-on-skin mornings, the cache of warmth
beneath the quilts and blankets of that otherwise cold, high-ceilinged room. The way her
eyes would fall on things: his easel, her books.
“Listen to this,” he would say, Sundays mostly, in bed with all the fat sections of
newspaper. Some bit of news, ironic, unruly, or both.
What else would she think of? Cigarette ashes falling like snow. Light from the
And how they wore tops to bed, usually, and were slow to take them off. He
would lift his and she hers, and they would yearn against each other. She would feel his
ribs and marvel, thinking always of the first time they’d been together and how each time after
was the same: delicious and fierce and sweet.
His arms and legs would wind around her. He was climbing her, he said, climbing
her higher than he thought a man could go.
And she was tiny beneath his fingers, tiny like the Carolina wren just outside the
Oh, that spring.
He pulled a thick white sweater over his head and went outside without putting on
They were in the city and she stood in the doorway watching as the darkness lifted.
She sneaked back into bed without his knowing she had seen him out there, eyeing the sky
And she laughed to think of their neighbors.
When he slid back beside her the room was gray with morning and his knees and
his belly and his testicles were cold until she kissed them.
No one wins . . .
You were awake, he said in mock reproof, reaching for the radio. And then Neil
Young’s voice, its remarkable innocence, was there in the room too.
No one wins . . .
“What a fucking lie,” he whispered in her ear.
He would paint that morning, day breaking like a blossom, sky bleaching pink.
“Baby-ass pink,” he would say. And he would tell her how hard it was to find the color,
and how long, how long, he had tried.