He’s been up late. Weariness pools below his eyes again.
“Do sit down.” Patio furniture scrapes against the courtyard floor. My spine shudders.
He scans the papers in front of me, pens lined up neatly beside. A breeze nudges one away. I push it back.
“It’s all in there?”
I nod. “I'll go over it again with you.”
He sets his jaw. “No, thanks,” and I read pain there.
He opens the folder I push towards him. A single document lies there, white on creamy manila. We look anywhere but directly at it.
When he reaches for the pen, the others tumble, scattering in all directions.
I stand up. “Can I get you something to drink?” Sweat’s staining deep purple on his lilac button-up. “Something cold perhaps?”
“I’ll see what I have.”
The kitchen is clean and cool. I brace my palms on the marble countertop and breathe.
I’m filling the glasses with ice water when I see the lemon, bright yellow accent in a stark white space, a citrus gift. There is time.
Ten minutes and I’ve made it just the way we like it. Sour more than sweet, hint of rosewater, ice, a sprig of mint. I pour, and carry it out the French doors.
I notice the stationery first. He’s replaced the pens and the folder rests evenly atop my other files. Chair pushed back, his elbows lean on knees, hands supporting his head. Curly hair escapes his fingers.
The tray clatters on the glass table before I know I’m trying to set it down.
“I won’t do it.”
I’m crouched down beside him, closer. “You’re sure?”
“I’m sure.” Tears have made webs of his eyelashes. “I want to get through this.”
Crying would be appropriate now but relieved, weightless, I’m laughing instead. He helps me up and our eyes finally meet.
And I kiss him the way I’ve just realized I’ve wanted to for weeks.
We hold each other. “I’ve missed my wife.” The whisper ruffles my hair.
I reach across the table and pick up the folder. The solitary paper, in his hands for the last time, is shredded and tossed to the wind. Evidence of our meeting here is soon cleared away.
All that remains are two clear glasses of new lemonade.