rode the elevator to the basement parking garage, bracing
himself between a metal handhold and a luggage rack filled with their
daughter’s wedding gifts. His ex’s musky perfume reached into his
past, infusing the stories they traded on the way to her car. She was
the only one he loved. Laughing, she told him that the lights on the
Bay Bridge kept her company at night. She’d never moved.
He wanted to see the metal span from the window in the bedroom of
their old flat. Maybe the view had changed?
He traveled on business, sending special occasion checks and tuition in Ritz Carlton envelopes. She became custodial parent. He whirled his daughter across a ballroom floor on her wedding night. Sparse wisps of brown, the color of the bride’s thick locks, clung to his head.
The mother, her fading red hair pulled into a matronly knot, held a damp tissue. She danced with the groom beneath twinkling chandeliers while the band played smooth jazz. Stray guests conversed at the buffet. She circulated among them, passing by white clad tables and recessed pillars. He swept past. She turned away, uninterested, unimpressed.
Ten years on, perfumed stationary fell as his wife packed his suitcase. In breathless script his new fling wrote, “See you in Chicago.”
Furious, she left the note, as witness, on rumpled cotton sheets that smelled of morning sex, the quick kind that happens between waking, stripping bare, and showering. She placed his empty bag on the pillow. Stepping over soiled clothing piled on the floor where he dropped it, she slammed the door.
She left for the
park, where she pushed their daughter’s swing like a mantra. On the
way home from the daycare drop, she shopped for groceries she didn’t
need and stayed clear until he collected his baggage.
Her apartment, a one room walk-up covered in flowered wallpaper, occupied a Victorian attic in the Haight section of San Francisco. Propped against a Laura Ashley covered double bed, they ate cherries and drank white wine. He breathed her almond scent, nosing the curve of her neck. Stretching, she touched his face, rough with evening stubble, soft with desire. They cuddled, warm at first and then wet. Wrapped in Peruvian blankets, they talked about childhood, and raising children, and work, and the sensual feeling of skin on skin. When they married, it was as if they had never been apart.