He is not lost, which may be why he isn’t smiling.
Everything that surrounds him he has passed by countless times. He knows this road- take the first right after the signal and he’ll be a roundabout away from his favorite cousin; take a left, and he will be three hairdressers away from his reliable hairdresser.
And two blocks away from the hairdresser stands his house.
Familiarity can be such a bitch when one wants to be lost. He wishes he could ravel endlessly on a straight, route-less path and wonder with abandon whether the sky stretching boundlessly above him was a shade nearer to blue or gray, and whether the sky was indeed limitless as it always seems.
Infinity is a delusion, he decides. The birth of a mild throbbing in his temples gives him direction for the moment: he needs Tylenol. He directs his car towards the dingy drug store on the left.
Shaking his head slightly - as if to empty his pulsating temples of her - he enters the store and asks for Tylenol. God bless the man who made Tylenol. Or the team, really.
“This does not feel like a team anymore,” she declared, with visible heat on her forehead. Too many lines in red.
They were dining together after ages. His imaginary friends were busy tonight. He sighed. Heat fell only to spread to her ears and cheeks. Her eyes never did give in easily to scarlet.
“You look beautiful,” he observed audibly, touching her cheek.
“Oh my GOD, you cannot do this!” she exclaimed, her hands expressing exasperation more effectively than her face.
He withdrew his hand.
But she really did look beautiful. “Do what?” he asked, smiling, wishing the heat would travel below the belt.
Snort. Just the word, not the action. As always.
“This. You cannot touch my face when I’m about to pronounce us a failure!”
“Failure?” He agreed.
“Well…” she hesitated, the lowered volume confirming slight fear.
No love-making today, then. Drama time.
“So you think us a failure?” he demanded, no syllable loud.
She gazed at him intently, knowledge flickering visibly in her eyes. Drama wilted; it had grown old.
“Yes, I do,” she smiled. It was not a sad smile and he hated it.
“You’re smiling. And you used ‘pronounce’,” he commented, grinning; long ago a very attractive girl somewhere had told him he had a very persuasive grin. Or was it seductive? Whatever it was (he was sure it was something, though), he was suddenly aware that it wouldn’t work anymore.
“You know I-“
“Yes?” it was important to cut across her.
Her eyes blazed.
He blurred his focus, smiling at a painting almost abstract now. Every feature of the painting was embedded in his memory, anyway.
She searched his face for a minute longer. Then, “I’m tired. And I’m going to bed. It’s late.”
Very late. The already deserted dining table knew it. The unoccupied side of their awaiting cotton sheeted bed knew it. The uninterrupted pour of Sigur Rós in her room knew it. The unspoken words, now forever destined to remain hovering disconnectedly above these two grayed poets knew it.
“I’m going to step out for a bit,” he called after her withdrawing figure.
He was unbelievably certain that she wanted to call back with an “of course”. And he was just as sure that she wouldn’t.
A foot out of the door, he wondered-- perhaps for moments with which he could console himself later-- if it could be repaired. But he knew. He knew that they could both run of out of the home, maybe even together, but the roof would collapse over them, anyway.
He shut the door very slowly, but the hinges still announced his departure.
Fucking, stupid door.
Sitting on the steps outside the drugstore, he still feels tension in the shoulders. There is an uncontrollable urge to shrug. Instead, he cracks his neck and pops another Tylenol in his expectant system.
In the abyss of literature within him, he knows an ephemeral quiet.