When she arrives on the landing, she is wearing only one sneaker, and in the pocket of her faded men’s button-down shirt, there is a twenty-dollar bill.
“I’m home,” she tells the loft, as she enters, her hand on the door, fingers splayed. “They all look sometimes, well not all of them, but most of them are looking sometimes to see what happens because it’s like remembering an old best friend–” she is saying, the words tumbling over themselves.
It is ragged and barren, and the cat who prowls for mice and receives milk and a warm fire is nowhere to be found. “That goes here,” she says softly. “It’s as it’s supposed to be, but not yet awake, like we’re waiting for Dinah, but Craig will find her first. After he finishes with his strips of paper, he finds her first,” she murmurs. She puts cold fingers to the cold stove where there was soup. “And this is right,” she whispers, nodding to herself. She puts cold fingers to drawing tablets that seem freshly abandoned. “Sold them. Not all. Some he gave to me,” she says. The light in these rooms is diffuse, and sound through the windows feels muffled, heavy with static, a far off station not quite tuned-in.
This is an in-between, this place, this time. There are tears on her cheeks as she kisses her fingertips and touches the cold stove, the floor by the fireplace, the drawings. She weeps nakedly, silently in this place where she is solid and but no one else is.
She finds his coat in the closet and runs her fingers over the slits cut in the back, and presses her face to the shoulder, breathing in his echo. “I came home but I’m not here yet,” she says, her voice pillowed by the wool.
From the counter, she collects a handful of bottlecaps, and tucks them into her pocket, hands trembling as she returns to where she came in, and hugs herself, looking around at memory, and what will be. “Come back,” she says, to the man who isn’t there, the one with navy eyes and gold light.
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