She looks out the window, into the misty morning air, thick with gray and moisture and the smell of the sea. She looks at the street, towards the rusted red car that sits still on the side of the road, lined up with all the other patient cars. It’s the red she associates with him, the color of him coming for her. The arrival of joy and the coming of eager pain. It’s the peeling paint, the dented bumper, the rusted roof. Her heart skips when she sees a dinged red car, and there are many of them on the road. Red, the color of erosion. Dried blood that moves along cemented veins.
Her attention comes back from the street to the kitchen table, she pulls it in like a retreating wave and her eyes fall to the pile of newspapers gathered on the carpet by the window. Weeks worth of news stacked in the bags they arrived in. There are old breadcrumbs left on a place mat, an unused coaster lonely without its glass of chocolate milk. She lays between his black bed sheets and drinks in the smell of his vitamins and old pillows. She has worn his underwear for days, refusing to change it, living just as he would. How easily she becomes another, how easily she becomes a ghost.
The collections of music magazines are here and notebooks full of twisted dreams and journals filled with ideas that could last us another thousand years. Her finger slides across a bookshelf, across the thin layer of discarded skin he has left and forgotten. None of these can make up for his absence. There are artifacts of his life, but none of them are really him, and she shudders to imagine a home without his body and the sound of his cough. Without him, these are only things, matter collected and stored.
She walks in the space between walls, a silent guard, a quiet caretaker. She walks in the shadow of his life, in the carefully arranged collections and the guarded secrets that she cannot read. In his room, she dances, letting tears run briefly while her arms breathe life into the shadows, her blackened image her only companion on the wall.
She wants to read every book, listen to every song on the CD shelves, but she fears the fright, the loneliness in a collection of words, the quiet in songs without a hug of understanding. It is him that breathes life into the story, him who looks deeper than the superficial article in TIME and finds the moment of awakening in a hardened politician. The books are nothing without the eye of the guide, the one who turns rain into food and dust into magic.
She flips through the glossy magazine on the table, reading each article, but sharing it with no one. She wishes for the sound of elephants to come up the stairs, wishes for his heat to travel to her through the glass panes, to come into her as she swallows another spoonful of oatmeal. There is no creaking door to inspire panic, no piano scales above her head. She cannot force her will upon him, he refuses to bend and it is she who must learn to unwind and untie the cords of reason and logic. She must bend, until pretzels become common and acrobats seem like tame cousins at Thanksgiving.
She waits for his voice coming with the night.