I pull a cold washcloth across the blossoming bruise and she barely flinches, “How’s the water?”
“The tub or the ice sheet you keep torturing me with?”
“Well,” I rinse the washcloth again, “I’m glad your sass has gone uninjured.”
She sighs a bit, a sound that pleases me with its normalcy, “They’re both fine Nurse Worry Wart, thank you.”
“Good, I wasn’t changing either anyway,” I hand her an advil and continue with the cold cloth on the worst spots.
She closes her eyes and leans back into the tile, “Do you think people have soulmates?”
“No,” I pause my tidying of her broken pieces for a moment to make sure she knows I’m looking at her, “I’m sorry, I heard you. It just surprised me.”
“It’s okay,” she tries on a smile, it doesn’t quite fit, and I know her lip hurts on the left side where the swelling is in full bloom.
“What do you think?” I’m still not ready to answer as I rinse her blood down the sink and twist the top off the Neosporin.
She pauses, and I can see the calculation going on behind her eyes, “Yes. I really do. It makes sense that people come in pairs.”
I raise an eyebrow at her, “…even Louise?”
She laughs a bit, enough to distract her so she barely noticed the sting of the antibiotic I swiped over her chin.
“Okay, maybe pairs come in all shapes and sizes… but yes! Even fucking don’t-touch-my-mugs Louise.”
I nod, but it kinda hurts to agree. Because I’m lonely. I’ve gotten kinda close to being somebody’s someone a few times, but it’s never lasted. We both thought she’d done it this time.
“What do you think?” She asks, cautious optimism in those amber orbs. Even when they’re sunken low in shadows.
A deep breath, because it would be easy to pass off a top-layer answer. Easy to say what I’d like to say. But she’d see that for what it was, and she is looking for more tonight. Plus I’d tried lying to her before and it never worked out.
“I know you and are old friends. I’m a believer in God, and all that jazz. But, despite the clause on that, I knew you before. And I think I’ll know you next time too. I think that’s why it’s okay to be mad with you for a while here. Why I don’t worry when you pout for a couple months. What’s time to us when we’ve got forever?”
She reaches up to my arm and squeezes it.
“And the rest of them?”
“What rest of them?” I place a small bandaid on her forehead, checking there are no dark russet locks caught in the ends.
She has such a bigger capacity for affection than I. Once, I thought that meant she was better at love in general. It took a long time for me to see a difference between the two, and even longer to realize it wasn’t something you could be better at. Our worlds were just full of different things.
A small blee-ba-dooop emits from her sequined clutch.
I see her chew her lip. It’ll have no chance of healing anytime soon with that habit of hers. She’s decided what to do already but hasn’t chosen if she’s was okay with it yet.
“I can write it,” I murmur, “Let me take care of it, you just soak for a bit.”
“I won’t ask you to do that,” but she pushes her purse towards me across the floor where the rest of her things fell, and pulls her arm back into the tub.
“You did it for me,” I kiss her forehead.
“When?” she laughs.
“Last time!” I call heading to the bedroom, typing away on her thin little phone, “or maybe next time, the time after that…” I chew my lip out of habit as I hit send and wipe him clean of this part of her too.
(noun) 1. A person or animal with whom one spends a lot of time or with whom one travels. 2. One of a pair of things intended to complement or match each other.
(verb) 1. Accompany.
Sometimes, stories come welling up from inside and I stop them. I think they’re too short, or not “on brand” or too sad or say too much or not enough, so I tuck them into my Drafts folder where they sit and gather metaphorical dust. This is one of those tales, but I finally decided to bring it out, dust it off, shine it up a bit, and show you.
One of the reasons I started writing was because I loved when words did 1 of 2 things: hit me, or let me hide. I liked when words took the breath out of me, made me think, made me grow, elevated me, traveled me, challenged me! I also liked when words built an igloo around me into a world where the good guys stayed good and everyone had a theme song with drums 🙂
If I’m to achieve either of those things, I cannot shy away from the short little tales that I think could mean something, even if they’re not my usual thing. I said this blog was to make myself stretch, so I can’t cramp myself into a box of my own making.
Never the less and always- Happy reading