Dahlia

This past summer (2011), I went through a long period of not writing. Short and sweet, it sucked. I went so long that I began to be afraid that I couldn’t write anymore, that it had been a phase of my life that I had outgrown, and I felt that I had lost something that was fundamental to who I am. Then, one sunny day, while out on a bike ride, she spoke to me, my muse, silent for so long after being ignored because I didn’t “have time.” The following story is about and for her.

“Don’t think,” she whispered as he sat before her, hesitating.

“I’ve missed you,” he said.

“And I you. Where have you been?”

“Away,” he replied and turned, looking into that away that he’d been, a look on his face she did not care to see. “But I’m back now.”

“For how long?” She could not keep the plaintive note from her voice. She remembered his face, eyes, smile, voice; his hands, strong and gentle, forceful and caressing.

He lit a cigarette, took a long drag, the tip burning angry. His voice was smoke, hanging blue in the air. “Does it matter?”

She bowed her head, hurt. Instead, she said, “I thought you quit.”

“Only in the real world.”

“But here…” she trailed off. “I’ve missed you,” because she didn’t know what else to say. “I’ve been calling.”

“I heard.” The dreams, the wind, the rain on his lips miles from home when miles meant something, not to everyone, but only to him, who knew how far one could stray.

“You ignored me.”

“Yes.” She spoke truth, always did, and no further reply was needed.

“Don’t think,” she whispered his eyes far away again. “Here is truth and thinking only gets in the way.”

He nodded, snubbing the half finished cigarette then sipping the water before him, not as good as the rain, but still good.

He reached for her as she reached for him. Her sob was quiet, his breathing roughened.

She whispered into his shoulder, “Do you love?”

“Still.” His mouth formed the word in her hair, smelling gardenia and wood smoke. “Always.”

“Stay here then.”

“You know I can’t.”

“I know,” she said, pulling back. He kept his hands on her. “But I can hope.”

“I will always come back,” he promised.

She accepted his promise as she enfolded him in her embrace. Bowing to the inevitable, she asked, “A story, then?”

“In time,” he replied, his emotion almost too close to bear. “First, let me love you.”

She did and he did, as best he could.

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