Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Spring of My Content

At seven forty-five, he called the room, just like he promised the night before, and at five after eight, he knocked at the door. I answered, wrapped in the stiff white hotel towel, still damp and slightly steaming from the shower.

“I’m not ready,” I apologized. “I tried.”

“That’s OK.” He rubbed my chin and bent over for a fast, open-mouthed kiss. “We’re important. They’ll wait.” He sat on the bed, not talking about the night before, because that was something we didn’t talk about. We would have to spend the entire day not talking about it. We had spent years not talking about it.

He watched the towel slip to the ground as I knelt to dig around in my bag. My naked body, softer and slacker than it had been all those years ago, still held his attention. “Oh!” I cursed, softly. “I was going to iron this blouse.”

And he leaned down, plucked the wrinkled fabric from my hand. Still kneeling on the ground, I watched him slide an ironing board from the closet, an iron from a clip set in the wall. He unfolded the ironing board, plugged in the iron, and watched me drying my legs as I watched him. By the time I’d extracted bra and panties and stockings from my bag, he was pressing my blouse, thick hands dwarfing the iron so you could almost imagine him smoothing the wrinkles with the strength of his fingers.

“Thanks,” I said. “If you couldn’t guess, I suck at ironing.” And he nodded his head, a silent acknowledgment that spoke of all the things we could not talk about.

There, I felt a heat that surpassed the greatest moments we had shared, dozens of nights in dozens of hotel rooms. Now, the pure and unadulterated care of his big hands, ironing my little blouse because he wanted me to look professional at his side, although I was anything but, overwhelmed any false detachment. Naked, I smiled, my eyes gulping up the scene as I struggled into the stockings.

If I could have held that moment, isolated it from all others and stretched it into infinity, I might have chosen to live there, in the small quiet gesture of his love.

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