Can you watch love die? Can you chart its course in the absences?
The fewer words spoken. The fewer gentle touches. The shirts unwashed,
the dishes undone. The heavy shouting silences. Is it present in the
additions? The proliferation of stumbling attempts to make conversation.
The sudden passion for sit-ups, for crisp clothes, for the half-formed
urges toward self-improvement.
Patrick unlocks their door, fumble-fingered. He walks in, sets
down his heavy briefcase, listens for and hears Rosa in the bedroom,
chattering. He has time, and so takes his paper-wrapped package into the
kitchen. There he pokes and prods, pulls out a few dead leaves, a
malformed bud, and shifts until the dark purple roses bloom like bruises
from the green heart of ferns. Only then does he take them to her, walks
in the bedroom door and sees her there, lying sprawled on their bed with
one hand between her thighs, in the dark robe he bought her for their
anniversary, the dark silk robe caressing her skin, her hair loose for
once and shockingly bright against it, her fingers slipping against the
silk, against her skin. She does not see him at first — he slipped off
his shoes as he entered, he has learned to move on cat feet. Rosa purrs
into the phone for an endless moment, and then looks up, sees him, falls
silent. He walks into the room. He offers the flowers. She mouths the
words, “Thank you.” She nods towards the kitchen, and he nods in return.
Patrick walks out of the room, closing the door behind him, and steps into
the kitchen. He pulls down a vase and prepares the fragile blooms for
cutting. He carefully does not hear what noises leak through the edges of