They have a drink on her balcony. She pretends they’re sitting on the terrace of a bar, like they might have in virus-free times. Instead they’re alone, inside her home. Two strangers in soft clothes and plain faces. The sun sets. The conversation stumbles, accelerates. They talk of fears, politics, childhoods, their intimacy growing in the darkness. The street is quiet. The buzz of cicadas and their own voices the only sounds cutting the air. Until they run out of things to say, and the cicadas alone save them from silence. Yet they refill their glasses, and move inside. She puts on music.
He thought of Lydia and wondered what it was that had gone wrong. He had felt her drifting away from him like the cloud in the windowpane. He’d just stood there. Until she collected her things, kissed him on the mouth and walked out of the door. The cardboard box had remained. It was filled with her. Her touch, her kindness, her skin. He held the piece of leather in his hands and gently folded it back into the box.
Some days she flicks through the clothes hangers but finds nothing to wear. She doesn’t find it because she does not know what she is looking for. She picks out a silky shirt and dark trousers. The garments feel all wrong. Clothes that don’t quite match, trousers that don’t quite fit. Short of time, she leaves to meet the day, meet him. He says she’s beautiful. His words are ill fitting too.
He saw her hunched over the table, the fabric surrounding her like a moat. He failed to see the point of it. They weren’t lovers like that. They slept together, they drank together, they laughed together. But they did not holiday together. They did not go to parties together. No, they did not make plans together.