She came to me every week. A crowd of skinny dark faces parted as I walked to her, alone in the impeccable dark blue suit. Perfect in a thousand other places.
“I love you.”
The smile appeared amidst the heat and dust.
“I know.” She took my hand and led me to the cottage by the sea.
“What about Erica?”
She always asked. In my guilt, she looked at me with a knowingness she never explained and in those moments she held me all the tighter; loved me all the deeper.
My eyes followed as she leapt off the bed, her chemise gone to pinkness, straight to the water.
Always on the fourth day, they came for her. Fearful as I was every time, I still let her go. She was never willing. She never looked back.
It gave me chance to recover and think. About the next time and how it would end. I could not bear to think of distances growing. At last I know, that over time, grieving mellows a little, as other priorities distract.
She comes to me rarely now. Some would say she has deserted me, and that might be true.
The pattern is still the same. I’m simply not as resilient as I was; not as full of the hope that it would change. I’m no longer strong enough for her to come more often.
Erica stays with me at those times, watching me closely, for she knows me so. Cooling my brow; hearing me whimper, she knows, despite all, she is the winner, for my suffering is what I deserve.
Soon, it will be over and I will suffer no more. She and Erica will become but one more formless figment in the aether.
And I will be alone, after all.