After the sex, both women lay tangled on the bed, neither wanting to get up. Getting up led to showers and dressing, to suitcases and airports and going away forever. The sex was perhaps a mistake, but both had wanted it, had fought for it. Perhaps it was an argument, in its way, a last ditch effort from each to persuade the other to relent, to change her mind. Sweat drying on skin testified that they had given it a good try, had hurled themselves at the problem, once again. Mottled sunlight filtered through the blinds, turned late and golden. If Therese waited much longer, she would miss her plane. And still, they lingered in the bed, silent for too long.
Finally, Katie spoke, her voice hoarse. �I don�t know what to say.� Her head in its accustomed place, nestled in the hollow built of shoulderblade and collarbone. Too little flesh to cushion her; Therese had been frenetic the last few weeks, a harried whirlwind of work and art and packing. She forgot to eat, over and over.
Therese closed her eyes, stroked a hand across tangled hair. �Write it,� she said. �You were always better at that.� They had met through letters. Three years of letters back and forth, three years spinning a romance online. Until they had finally met, found a solid space where bodies might connect. And having found that, they found they couldn�t go back. Couldn�t bear to feel the connection thin again, fabric fraying down to a ragged weave, a tangled mess of dirty thread, wisp of memory and loss. Better to cut the cord, slice it sharp. Even if you cut yourself in the process.
The detritus of packing surrounded them; Katie had promised to clean up what remained. Therese had run out of time. There was not much left � tubes of paint almost empty, damaged canvas, drying markers. Katie took up a marker, thick and black. At the touch of it on her skin, Therese startled and then stilled, accepting whatever came.
The words bloomed like dark flowers, spiraling around her belly. Words evoking days and nights through that long summer. Presidio. Catamaran. Bamboo. Gelato. Other words down long, thick legs. Hit you. Beat you. Kick in the gut. Your fucking father. And then these, written on bare arms, where perhaps a long-sleeve shirt might be enough to hide them in the airport, or might not. Did they do strip searches still? Sex. Fucking. Lust. Cunt.
Katie didn�t write love, though love was there, or had been. It was there in the press of marker against flesh, the angry fingers digging into skin. For a summer, they had lost themselves in each other, dropped fear and inhibition. For a summer, they had lost the world, and found themselves.
The last word came light, traced gentle as rain across Therese�s face. And then Katie rose, dropping the marker, uncapped, to the floor. Pulled on sufficient clothes and walked out the door, letting it fall shut gently enough.
Therese rose and went into the bathroom and looked into the mirror. On her forehead was written the final word. �Abandoned.�