Nightfall, once again.  Tired eyes that see too much.  Aching flesh that knows no reprieve. The same glass door, the same hopeful face. An understanding of the inevitable.  He never says a word when he unlocks the door and steps away, allowing her to cross the threshold.  Her feeble attempts to speak are always silenced by the pull of his lips on hers.  Understanding passes between them; a contract written not in words.  Clothing is torn recklessly, breathing accelerates, silence punctuated by muffled groans and throaty whispers.


It is over far too quickly, and he returns, reluctantly, to his body.  He looks to his right, to the young woman without a face curled tightly around his frame, and sighs in resignation.  Again she tries to speak and again he silences her with his lips and tongue. 


“Sleep…sleep now…”


The words are a command cloaked in tenderness.


Later, when their bodies cool and their skin turns sticky with the salt of drying sweat, he will regret the night, in the familiar rhythm of pattern.  She will smile blissfully and snuggle close to him under the heavy blankets, mistaking once again lust for love, urgency for affection, exhaustion for tenderness.  He needs her.  She is certain of it.


The clock will chime three-thirty, as it does every night, and he will shift from his sleepless rest, and sit up in bed.  She will stir but once, mumbling slightly under her breath and reaching out a finely manicured hand to clutch at his fingers.  He will pull them away sharply, recoiling from her touch as one would a serpent.  He will slither from beneath the covers and slink to where his clothes were cast aside in the heat of what she mistook for passion.  Silently, quickly, he will dress, steadying his nerves with a stiff shot of bourbon from the bottle on the nightstand.  He will cough against the harsh bite of the liquor and inhale sharply, his surroundings spinning recklessly as he tries to find his bearings.


He will go to the bedroom door, pressing his ear against the hard wood to listen for a brief moment before slipping into the hallway, following the carpet to the staircase, and the staircase to his car, waiting outside, as always.


The tears don’t come until he is securely strapped in the driver’s seat, with the heat cranked far too high and the stereo blasting to a mind-numbing level, set on some channel or other.  His fingers will grip the warmed leather and his jaw will clench in consternation as he angrily flips the rearview mirror up.


He never, ever looks back.



© 2002 ~A.