He wakes to the he sound of the bath filling, honey-smoked bacon below. He hears her, just hears her, faint, humming, soft on the air like a phone purring beneath a pillow.
It hits him - thwack - he is in love.
He is many things, mostly things he does not like, but she has told him, when he telephones, he is her gentle caller. She says it with a kind of love, a tiny air of loss in her voice and he wishes he could always be so soft.
He could wonder, as his second wife fades away, if he could sift through the parts of him he doesn't like, leave behind those parts that in the mirror do not frighten him. He so wants to love and be loved but he knows he walks with ghosts.
He wants to say, we live here, angels, in the space between our breaths, we fly, we sail, we are clouds that touch, we are light.
But he is afraid that as his mouth opens he will talk about the wrong things, the distraction of wives, of the darker things, not of what is possible, only of what has always happened.
He has known her, known her in the tightness of the moment, that incredible shudder, the six-beat oh-oh-oh of her when he could cry with giving; the beat of the unsaid, the incredible little death, how they hover, hoping, yet are practical in their touching, afraid to only love.
He thinks, we could be driving home from a stale party, or dying together, walking in the camps, or floating towards the falls not knowing if the drop will be worth it. He thinks, this is important, her quiet voice matters, the smell of bacon is like love on the air.
He would say, if he could, "I guess now we have to get rid of her things," but to even think of all those things reminds him of the two dozen years where he slowly became invisible, and how the invisible him was angry, and never gentle on the phone.
Instead he wants to just hold her, let her know him only through feel, through his words. Together they can imagine moments, locations, coincidences, and, some day, some day, they will be alone, them, together in the room.
He has always been just outside the School of Love, just another dog in the rain, fallow, bedraggled, yet convinced there was love in him, love that did not go sour, love that made people real and not transparent.
He thinks, yes, this has become love, but as he thinks, this has become love, he thinks with his darkness, how does it become love, what becomes? What was "it" in the moment before it was love?
He wants to build her a house; a house with four ovens, ten beds, a balcony that looks down on a beach. He wants to walk with her in sand but be able to watch her walking, too, walking away, and not be frightened.
He wants not to be afraid of when love becomes material and the heart begins to blur.