blacksmith – tongue – woman – spark – musical
blind – Bible – barbecue – elbow – bundle
I press the ignitor button and I hear it clicking, but there isn’t a spark. I grab my cigarette lighter from my back pocket, hold it lit to the vent on the side of the rusted barbecue and the accumulated propane bursts into flame. Once it’s up the temperature and the meat’s on, I lean over the burgers like a blacksmith over steel. I work them constantly; moving them to different spots on the grill, checking the bottom sides, anything to excuse why I’m not talking. She meanders purposelessly around the empty swimming pool. Fall leaves cover the bottom of the bowl and the concrete deck. I’m not tongue tied, I just don’t want to fuck this up, not again. Somehow I’ve gotten her here and I fear anything I say could wake me from this dream I’ve long had.
“How long have you been here?” She asks me when she returns to the picnic table and cracks open a beer. She’s referring to the Sunshine Motel that’s been my home since the divorce. The place I’ve brought the woman I married for dinner.
“Oh, four months.” I lie. “I was with my brother for a bit.”
When the food is ready, we eat and drink and it’s tasty, and the air is warm, and before long I have her laughing again. I missed how musical her voice is. She reaches across the table and touches me at the elbow. I caress hers back. “Why did we stop?” I try to ask with my eyes. The sun’s dropping low. She answers by asking what room is mine. We go there.
She sits on the bed, sipping the hard stuff now. I’m blind with love looking at her. It’s pouring back into me, overflowing, and my face tingles. “Just stay right there,” I say. “I need you to hear me.”
“Colin…” she says, but I open the bedside drawer. Beside the Bible is the bundle of letters I’ve written to her, bound by a wrinkly rubber band. I read them all to her. The alarm clock counts into the early morning. I read some for a second time. She listens, I feel her soul leaning in, and I think she loves me again.