Tuesday, January 31, 2006

nary a word

he was frustrated. he didn't want to be at home if it meant having to be hounded about his attitude. but home is where his shower was, and home is where he could change clothes and sit still, watch some sportscen.ter without having to argue with anyone else, and let the rest of the evening eventually slip away until all that was left was turning the television off and hoping for a better tomorrow. that is, if she would just understand his need for space, keep her distance and understand this once, without him having to tell her, that he just didn't want to talk about it. if she would just not try to guilt him with those eyes. he took his keys out of the steering column, grabbed his leather shoulder bag and hefted his exhausted frame out of the car into the twilight. at the door, he paused before turning the key in the lock to exhale a wordless prayer. even his mind was at a loss for words.

he swept through the door frame silently, tentatively. the house smelled different. he couldn't place the soft scent right away, but it was nice to come home to... first order of business - drop this work baggage. keys on the table. shoes near the baseboard. he could put them away another day. coat over the banister. bag at the foot of the steps. he pulled off his already loosened tie and unbuttoned his shirt as he walked upstairs to shed the rest of his day. he imagined the shower to come, steam rising and wafting the smell of cleanliness through the room, massaging suds through his hair, warm water kneading the stiff dough of his weary back...

he walked in his shorts to the bathroom to start the water. in mid-reach for the knob, he noticed that pleasant scent, again... and he wondered where she was and why the house was so quiet. why hadn't she called out to him as he trudged through the doorway, like she usually does? he went downstairs to find her, willing to take his chances on having to find a patient way to get away from her to the shower once his curiosity was satisfied. as he walked back towards the kitchen, he saw the flicker that only candles could make, reflected on the dimly lit dining room walls, and he hesitated. damn. he didn't have the energy for this, but wasn't her sweetness a part of why he loved her?

he craned his neck into the door with a knowing smile. their eyes locked immediately, since she heard him come back down the stairs and was waiting for him to find his way to her. she knew he wasn't much for candles and stereotypical notions of romance, but she wanted to change the air with their scent and warm her gesture of love with their light. she didn't say a word as she walked over to him and placed one finger on his parted lips and her other hand on his about-to-make-an-excuse-to-run-away hand. come in, she gestured. sit down, she guided him. who knew he would make this easier by coming down in only his shorts? no shirt to strip. from behind him, she began to stroke his neck and shoulders with a light touch, the prelude to a slow and concentrated massage, punctuated with his occasional hums of satisfaction. he allowed her touch and gravity's pull to take away his rigidity, but his mind was still working full time, trying to figure out how to get back to the shower without hurting her feelings.

she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his temple. a moment suspended itself as he hesitated, then inhaled sharply while opening his mouth to speak - only to have her hand softly hush his thought again. something in him kicked against her insistence, but in his weariness, he capitulated and reasoned that if he could just be patient with her plans, he could get back to his own. so he smiled appreciatively as she served salad, followed by homemade mashed potatoes and crab cakes that he knew she must have left work early to prepare. they ate in silence, stealing occasional glances at each other. she, at the furrow still in his brow, the width of his shoulders that she had always loved, the birthmark in the abstract shape of a starfish that danced under his collarbone when he chewed. he, at the beautiful robe she was wearing, which he hadn't even noticed when she pulled him into the chair. he felt lazy now, relaxed by the massage and weighed down by the food. grateful though he was, he knew the shower just wouldn't be the same now... and he hoped she wouldn't make any unreasonable requests tonight of what little energy he had left...

as she rose and coaxed him out of the chair, he figured she must have been reading his mind to know that he wanted to go upstairs... why couldn't she also have read his thoughts that he'd rather have gone up alone? but he followed her gentle handclasp to the stairs. watched her robe shift like swaying trees as she climbed the stairs ahead of him, patiently enduring her sweetly intended game. they stopped at the bathroom, where she knelt before the tub and started a shower. come, she motioned, test the water. and as he bent over to put his hand under the faucet, she rose and dropped the robe.

he looked up at her and remembered sunrises he'd seen, and the kiss of spring's arrival. his brow lost its furrow as he finally understood that she only wanted to be there, and that if he didn't want to talk, that was fine with her. but she wasn't going to just evaporate, because she needed him. just like he needed her right at the moment his eyes traced their way up her torso to her eyes. not guilt inducing this time. just loving.

they spent the night with no words. the morning sun found a kitchen with dirty plates and plenty of melted candle wax on the table. dress shoes strewn in the hallway. a robe and shorts in the bathroom floor. wet towels on the bedroom floor. and one big lump under scattered covers on the bed. one big, giggling, joyful lump, ripe with the sweet sound of lovers flirting on the morning after - silent no more.