I was a lack of silence that Jesse never quite knew what to do with. Our playtime became less and less, while my worries grew like rocks that had some undiscovered purpose.
And my worries lined within themselves, seemingly doubling with each day that passed away.
“I’m going to the store,” I said through the opening between the kitchen counter and the living room.
Jesse sat on the couch with his feet up on the coffee table, right leg over left, right as I had left him a half hour ago as I went to clean the bathroom.
“Mmmph” or something like that came from his mouth, the opening that once opened into more than one, two or three word snippets. He didn’t look up from the book in his lap, and a curl fell over his forehead.
I turned back toward the open fridge and double checked my list. Carrots, broccoli, chicken, oranges, skim milk… It was all there.
Putting on my red coat and doing up the buttons, first the bottom one, to the top, I grabbed the keys from the side table and went out the door. I stopped myself from looking back at him.
Out to the elevator and down to the entranceway, I passed the mailboxes and saw a yellow shirt out of the corner of my eye. My eye caught a feeling of being looked at and turned its blue orb towards the yellow figure. It was Joe from 111. He had lived there almost as long as we had.
“Marie,” he said with a smile that had kindness scrawled all over it. “How have you been?”
I looked at him, looked at the floor, bounced the keys around in my palm, and cleared my throat.
“That well?” he said. He laughed, stopping immediately when I looked at the floor again.
“Here,” he said, taking me by the hand and leading me down the hallway. The last time I was touched there by a man was beyond my recollection. As he unlocked the door to his apartment, and I followed him in, I watched his backside, the way the fabric ruffled as his arms moved. When he turned around, he gently held my upper arms within his hands and leaned toward my neck.
“I had hoped you would find me,” he said.
And I knew then that he had no idea how lost I really was. I tipped back my head as his lips went down my neck, and he started to unbutton my coat. The store would have to wait, after all. As my eyes closed, I pictured Jesse’s hands were the ones that reached under my shirt to undo my bra.