She had got into the habit of leaving the breakfast dishes in the lounge when she stayed over. It was almost her calling card; when I finally roused myself into action on a Sunday afternoon I would always notice if a plate of crumbs wasn’t lying dormant on my coffee table.
It meant she hadn’t stayed. Which meant we’d been fighting again.
She had always been somewhat polarised. Some days she would call me at work, giggling and breathless, whispering torrid words that almost melted the cable down which they travelled. The weekend that followed would be ecstatic. And yet, within days of that, the phone calls would become colder. Sterner. Judgemental. Questions about our future, our direction, our plans. I never did have an answer for her.
I knew she was unhappy. Her husband didn’t particularly treat her badly, he just didn’t understand her. At least that’s how she made out. I saw them together once, in the park where we often met. He seemed to understand her just fine from what I saw. Maybe it was a ruse to lure me in deeper. If it was, it worked.
So whenever she did stay over, under the pretence she was visiting her sister, or some other carefully constructed lie, I tried to forget the questions. She would always find some way to ask them though, never explicitly, only through the sweeping of her hair, the chewing of her lip, the way she blinked twice quickly before kissing me.
And I would smile, stroke her shoulder, resolute in the defence of my position, my truth. Then it would be over;she would dress, always in front of me, as if to try and break my resolve, to try and show me how it could be, how plans could be formed, executed, lived.
And then she would make herself toast. And she would slip away like the tide from the beach, certain to return to disturb my life again soon.