By June Alexander
The rain is here, my bones told me. But he is not, my heart said back. The heaviness of your absence made the gray clouds darker, coloring them charcoal and steel. If I’d run out into the weather, would you have come to me? Would you have been there as my clothes soaked through, as I held out cupped hands and let my palms fill with water? Would your headlights have cut yellow and soft through the bleak afternoon, the beams of light bouncing as you hit that bump at the bottom of my drive?
I thought of all this as I stood at the foot of my bed, staring at the wrinkled sheets that had been missing you for nights now. It has only been three nights, my mind said. But you are looking at the rest of your nights, my heart said back.
My knowing you has been dotted with almost palpable moments of realness, in which I felt love and trust and hope so strongly I ached. Once, I watched you walk away from me to your car. You had to cross a street and you didn’t look before stepping out onto the asphalt and I would have been scared, except that it was you, and, in a moment of clarity, I realized I thought you were invincible.
Once, I stood alone on a bridge overlooking cold water, watching the sky glow lavender, scarlet, gold above trees silhouetted black against the blaze. I thought back to when you’d said there was nothing beautiful about this city, and how I’d known then that you’d never seen the sun set over the dirty river. I realized I’d never wanted you with me more than I did right then, as I watched the night, with flashes of hot color, reach down to the treetops and kiss the day goodbye.
I dreamt of you almost unimaginably clearly, once. I saw us at night in the summer, walking down cobblestone in the dripping golden light of bulbs on strings draped from crimson awnings. The streets were alive and humming with people, with wanderers like us, and I held on to you as you pushed through the crowd. You were in your light blue shirt—my own piece of sky in the sparkling dark. I can see you still. I loved you fiercely there, wherever we were.
The rain is beating on the roof but the house is silent, quiet, empty. I was quiet, too, with you. I think it’s that I never had the right words. But you—you always did. You spoke with them; you wrote with them; you built with them like bricks. You stacked them up and stepped up on them, just to get off the ground, and then you built wings with them, just to be closer to the sky. You spoke promises and framed us a future: You built us a house in a field dry with winter. You built us dinners in cities bright with light. You built us decades with words, and you demolished them in seconds. He wanted those things, once, my vanity told me. And what he didn’t want, he left, my heart said back.
Water turned to ice. The clinks of the hail against the roof chipped away at my resolve and I reached for the phone. At the first ring, thunder boomed above the roof. At the second, lightning glowed hot against the gray. Then the recording: “The number you are trying to reach is no long—.” I hung up. He is not there, the recorded voice had told me. But the rain is here, my heart said back.