My husband lives in shadow. I see it when he walks to the breakfast table, when he eats my waffles, when he leaves and goes to work in his garden. It coils around him, dark and sinuous. It weaves through his fingers, between his legs, around his chest. It fills the spaces where I used to go, once.
But now, right now, his arm around me, his hand in mine, I am the one weaving my fingers through his, and it is my face against his chest. The shadow is gone, and I am back where I am supposed to be.
He takes my hand and brings it to his lips. I feel every warm whorl of his finger pads, every exhalation of his breath on my skin.
Sometimes, when I make my waffles, I think about the shadow. It flows up and down the stairs. Waves of it lap against the dining table. It pools in the sink.
I can feel it winding its way around me. It wraps around my arms and clings to my chest and sends its tendrils down my throat, so that I cannot speak.
The shadow pours into the little squares of the waffles, like syrup.
It’s been so long since we’ve had a pleasant breakfast. Or a pleasant lunch, or dinner, or picnic, or a pleasant anything.
But now he is here and the shadow is not. I look into his eyes. They are green and warm and hazy. I study them, looking for the shadow. It must be there. It’s been there for years.
I look and look, but I don’t see it.
I am looking in his eyes, and he is looking into mine, and the shadow is not here.
The shadow is not here but he is, with his burning green eyes and his warm hands and his slow steady thrusts.
His eyes crackle and spark and I grip him harder, pulling him into me.
The shadow slipped between us after the fire.
He came home from the hospital, and he wasn’t the same. He’d always been quiet. He’d always been reserved. But after the fire, he retreated deep into himself. He went somewhere I couldn’t follow.
He’d pick at my waffles, tearing them apart, pushing his fork down into the syrup. He’d say that he was going out, in a low rough voice, a new voice, a voice full of the shadow. He stopped looking at me.
He stopped touching me.
He touched his plants instead.
He is panting, faster and faster. His fingers close around my arms, bruising the skin, and I want him I want him I want him and I raise my hips to meet his thrusts and I drive him into me, deeper, harder, and the shadow isn’t here and he is warm and he is light and I am free, I am free, and I can speak.
“Seth.” I breathe his name, the shadow gone, the barrier down, his skin against mine, and he is part of me and I am part of him and his eyes burn and burn and burn.
“Seth”, I say again, his name a charm against the shadow, my claim on him. He leans down and presses his lips against mine so hard that I cannot breathe.
He gathers me against him, and I feel his fingers tight on my shoulders and the hairs on his chest rough against my skin. I feel his hips slam against mine. I feel him shudder inside me.
I don’t want him to go. I want him to stay here. I want to stay like this, locked together, skin against skin, no space for the shadow.
He looks down at me, his eyes still clear. He kisses me, tenderly, softly, no more bruising hardness, and he says “Sarah”.
My name his claim on me, and it is absolute.
He pulls out, leaving me empty and bereft. He rolls on to his back. I curl up next to him, my head on his chest, and he combs his fingers through my hair.
I think about him out in his garden, the shadow swirling around him, and I wonder.
When will the shadow be back?