Logan Bright 2016 – Novakovich 5e14
We hadn’t been down to the lakeside since the surgery but on that wine-red harvest moon last year I knew we had to go. It was a cold October and we bundled into insulators, put mittens on your hands. Overdid it, really. I was sweating in the cool lake breeze and you were flushed. I like that. The rosy splotches on your cheeks seemed so full of life. You were breathing easily, too, better even than at home. The sludgy water lapped at the banks and we dared to dip our toes. We splashed our trouser cuffs when we yanked our vulnerable flesh from the stinging cold water.
We walked a while then. You counted twenty-two red-text plates on cars and I only got to seventeen. We shared a slice of pumpkin pie at a sit-down restaurant. You drank only water, and I had a whiskey that shut the cold away outside like the touch of your hand.
We returned to the apartment savagely late; hadn’t been out that late since we were kids and sending long texts like 90. You lit candles, stubby ones with burnt black wicks, and they fought hard in our cold room for a while. I smelled the lake breeze, it came home with us over kims and kims of walked concrete, the cool breeze laced with the thick oak-resin smell of the things that flow in the waters. We put the stereo on. You kissed me every time Pharrell sang the word ‘happy’ and I kissed you every time his backup singers did. We were rolling on the tatami mats before the song was done. The speaker hummed and buzzed in rhythm with our writhing bodies.
When we were through you held me in your good arm. I felt low rumbles in your chest, your cells moving around in there on crucial, routine business. I turned on the lamp and it bathed us in the ruddy glow of the grand harvest moon. We laid in that glow a long time. It was then that you slipped back into malady, I think. You rose when the sparrows came to the windowsill seeking their morning treat.
The sparrows don’t come around now and I don’t know why. I fed them just as you did.
Your surgeon told me he did the best he could, him and his team; he introduced them all to me by name. Their credentials whirred past me, flowed right past my consciousness. You held my hand. I felt those delicate fingers in mine, friendly and warm like good whiskey. The surgeon’s team said you were gone, of course, I knew that, but your hand in mine at that moment was more real to me than the sharp white room the surgeon had corralled me into to deliver bad news.
We went back to the lake that night. It was much warmer than before, with your hand in mine the whole walk. You were breathing well, clear and easy. I was sweating in the stagnant heat. No cool breeze, no scent of oak-resin came up from the brown-grey lake.
We ate pumpkin pie. I had water. We walked home again, a circuitous route, and again you bested me in plates. I’m getting closer, but I’m always missing some.
We put the stereo on, Pharrell of course, and knelt onto the tatamis. We kissed for every ‘happy’ and I felt your lips on mine.
You held me in your good arm when I awoke. Your cells burbled and worked deep inside your chest. I pressed my ear hard against it, to hear them all, to feel their energy pulsing through you into my bones, my marrow. I reveled in your sonorous hum.
There was no illness when you awoke. We held hands through breakfast. You are here with me always. I miss you.