chapter seven

on occasion, he wakes before our our side of the bed, and gives a half-flinch which signals his spirit's return from dreaming on a distant star. for an instant, his grip tightens, and I am treated to the slow trace of his finger between the folded, thick skin at my curved waist. in the earliest days of new and fascinated love, I knew this meant he was preparing to come for me, and I would press my eyes closed tight, burying my face a bit to keep from giggling. and he liked this best, pressing into my back, his thick hands pinching at my roundest bits. the air would go quiet around us as we ensured the house slept soundly, and my heart would race to be desired by so fine a man, and softly he would begin. I think of this now as he slips silently away, tucking tight the blankets on his edge to keep the warmth in, and pads slowly down the hall, a tabby cat trailing behind.

I know he's going to the quiet room.

it was here we first made love. on a cold, dark evening in March when the gusts whip through, distorting memories of daylight's yellow warmth, and mocking bare limbs, forcing hesitant hands to interlock, he walked me to the door. and as I stood at the threshold, caught in the kitchen's glow and my throat's held words, he took a step forward and kept my gaze as the door shut. soon, the lanky babysitter was paid and waving from the driveway, her spindly arms full of schoolbooks and her father's idling engine churning a farewell. I feigned making tea, certain a move in any direction would sent my feet melting into my puddle of a heart there on the floor, and I fell easily into his arms when his agile frame leapt for me, the anticipation of night wooing us both. lips locked, we navigated slowly around door frames, stepping over discarded pieces of a wooden train set, our own track laid, until we sunk into the plushness of the moon and all its conjurings.

it was here he slept a night when your coughing reinstated hourly attention, and the lurking sunrise loomed heavy on his mind.

it was here that he wrapped presents late into the evening as snow buried the rose bushes out back. they bloomed big that next year, and you whispered to him the snow had been magic. he snipped one for you instantly before darting off to the shed, walking backwards in the slinky way that drips of confident innocence.

it is here I hung the thrifted frames and torn prints saved from summer sales, and where he shook his head ever so slightly as I marveled at their beauty, and here that I will find him tinkering in the sunlight, his dirtied hands taunting my cushions. 

my belly is wide and heavy, the life inside burrowing deep and building a hammock between my hips. careful not to disturb you, I roll with effort to face the window and listen for the tings of his working. I let my feet dangle at the bed's edge for a moment, pausing to drink his bedside table teeming with small notes, coins, and seemingly useless screws. tucked between the pages of his pocket-size journal is the peeking folded edge of a pink paper - a love letter I wrote him last fall while he worked in the city. there is a delicate dance to standing when bellies grow round as melons, and I'm precious about timing as I take the plunge and guide myself upwards. looking back to see your eyes flutter and foot stretch is the keenest sweetness, and has become the one unwavering routine of these undulating months.

I like the feel of the floorboards in the morning, as if coated by night's magic, and patiently awaiting our return. the dust seems aglow in pockets of air where the sun has taken root, kissing each speck softly and setting the path toward his side aflame. the whisper of turning tools opens the day, and I have come to find solace in the way he stays fixated on his precise business all while I edge my wideness past. the cushion on the window seat holds a stain from last week's berry fiasco, and I have a mind to turn it over, though I wouldn't know who for. I watched the trees for s sign of breeze, a simple telling of the day's expectations, and feel a burning in my cheeks. 

somehow he does this: tells of his gaze before I find it, and I blush when our eyes meet. he carries no rag to wipe the oil from his palms, and I do not mind for I was his work once. a small, dusty thing, buried beneath the unwound parts, and he salvaged me, polishing my casing, greasing the bent coils of my insides, and finding my rhythm. he set my time, and now his divine lips are on mine, breathing my breath, and snatching the space from between our morning stories. 

I like the way he leaves kisses unfinished as he turns to listen for the tune of your existence, his strong hand about my neck, long finger tracing circles in the curved ditch behind my earlobe. the sliding sound of toes on the steps brings a twinkle to his eyes, and I'll forget now about the blackened mark on my skin until bath time later. my belly will stick out above the water, and you'll pile suds atop of stretching skin. pouring warm bubbles through your curls, I'll listen as you tell me of the banana pancakes he made, flipping them almost to the ceiling. you will count the slayed dragons, and steps marched, and words read, and you'll grow quiet, placing an ear to my navel and closing your eyes, listening for life, only to hear his laughter from the yard.

there is an unspoken romance to these days, and I will crawl into bed that evening content and bubbly with the knowledge that to stitch together hearts with golden string, mending them into new shapes, is the truest work of second-chance lovers. that you are a witness to new beginnings will fortify your soul in ways I never could have on my own, and our collective womanhood will be the better for having given into the temptation to believe our hands are worth holding, our tears worth time, our skin worth caressing, and our homes worth filling with joy.