Grayson shifts away from me, pulling the comforter off my legs. I can’t remember the last time she slept through the night, making notes in her phone instead of writing in her notebook.
“Would’ve been six months,” she says, beside me in bed. For a moment the words mean nothing. We talk so little about what happened, writing about it instead; burying our baby in words and metaphors about birds and nests.
We never got to bury anything real.
“I want to take the train to Fairfield,” I say.
I’m rewarded with a real smile, one I haven’t seen in weeks. Like that, Grayson is herself again, illuminated by the light from her cell phone.
Of course Gray is still herself, but we are changed. This is our reality, and sometimes it doesn’t feel real.
“Maybe I’ll write something new,” she says.
“So it’s decided?” I ask.
“Check the train times,” she says, leaving our bedroom in search of a story, or maybe a cup of coffee
The train leaves in less than an hour. When I print our tickets, the time stamp says 11:50 PM departure. I pack a bag with two notebooks and six pens and a change of clothes for each of us. I hope some time away will help Gray forget the should have of this moment. She should’ve been six months pregnant today, but instead, she’s two months empty.
Maybe the rest of our lives will be spent marking time this way.
“How are we out of coffee?” Gray asks on our way out the door.
The station is a short walk from the apartment. We buy a cup to share on the way to keep our hands and mouths warm. Two months ago, we would’ve held hands, or kissed instead. It’s been difficult for Gray to be close, so I take what I can from the taste of her peppermint lip balm on the rim of the paper cup. We arrive just in time, and the conductor directs us toward our seats. The world is dark beyond the windows.
“Do you want to write?” I ask once we’re settled. Gray draws swirls in the condensation on the train window, and I wait for her answer.
I wish she’d write beside me like we used to at the beginning. Our pens used to dance across separate pages in perfect synchronicity. The movement looked like love before I really knew I loved Gray.
“I love you,” she says. She smiles her permission for me to start, and I grab a pen and my notebook from the bag.
Grayson rests her head against my shoulder, falling asleep after the train departs. I wonder if she sleeps uninterrupted, or if she dreams.
“Baby,” she says when she wakes an hour later. She pulls the pen from my hand, and asks, “What are you writing?”
“Dreams. Or maybe this is a dream, here. Not sure yet,” I say. And it’s true because I can’t remember the last time we sat so close; both of us so awake.
“Write something,” she says. She kicks off her boots and pulls her feet beneath her, nudging me with her shoulder.
“I thought I already did.”
“Write something for me,” she says. Her bottom lip wobbles when she says it, like she might cry. So I take the pen and the notebook and begin:
If she was really
there, he’d touch her. Reflections
so close. Almost real.
“Why haven’t you tried talking to me?” Gray asks. “I’m here, Shaw. I’m real.”
“We’re on a train to Fairfield,” I say, hoping she knows I’m trying.
“You want me to feel better, but I can’t. We don’t talk about it. We never talk about it,” she says. She cries for real, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “Do you blame me?”
“This happens to other couples,” I say, taking her hand.
“But is it my fault?” she asks.
“I want to kiss you, be close to you, but I’m scared. I’m not sure when it’ll be right or if you’ll be ready,” I say. “What if it’s always like this? I know when you look at me you’re really looking for her, right?”
“Sometimes I wonder if she would’ve had your eyes,” she says and then she kisses me, and it’s real, and she’s real.
“I miss it,” she says. “I miss feeling her.”
My throat feels tight, and I know I’m about to cry, and I don’t try to hold it in, because I miss her, too. I miss the people we might’ve been.
“I never could, Gray. I could never blame you.”
Grayson wipes her hand at my eyes when the conductor announces, “Fairfield.”
“Let’s go to the beach,” I say.
“But it’s snowing,” she says.
“Was that going to stop you the last time we were here?” For a moment, she doesn’t answer, but as soon as she remembers I see it; her eyes brighten, and she gives me a smile.
We stand in the Fairfield station on the edge of today, and we kiss. I write the word real on her neck. She nods against my chest.
Originally published at www.oneforonethousand.com on November 24, 2015.