We were on the balcony. He was leaning on the flower box, distracted by the heat. His elbow slipped in, speckled his shirtsleeve with dirt. He brushed it off with his hands, and then the dirt was on his palms. He brushed his hands together and then the dirt was on his shoes. The whole thing was farcical and he had a silly grin on his face.
‘Smells like home.’ He said and his smile swept all the way up to the corners of his eyes.
He pushed his hands under my nose and I took a deep breath in.
It smelt like dirt.
When I smiled back, it barely reached my ears.
‘You should wash your hands,’ I said, turning away before he could see me wilt, ‘I don’t want any of that muck on my dress.’
He bought me a bracelet.
I looked at it. Lying in the box, glittering. Fancy, like. Expensive.
I looked at it and then I looked at him. He was looking at the bracelet, but his face was all red and he kept blinking like there was something in his eye.
I knew I had to say something but I didn’t know what to say. My hands were shaking and I thought that if I opened my mouth I might let out a sob, so I just started nodding.
So then, he started nodding.
And we both stood there nodding like that explained everything that was threatening to spill out of us and fill the room and drown us.
Nodding like two people who had just agreed on a very good deal. My heart in exchange for his.
Nodding and blinking and shaking and twinkling. Never saying any words.
“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”
― Kurt Vonnegut