They’re fighting and she is trying to be quiet about it, withdrawing into a denim jacket, taking on the qualities of a store window mannequin. Look, don’t see me. Glance, don’t notice. But he is flamboyant, he speaks in a strut, means to make you look.
A black book of newspaper clippings pulled from her lap, she doesn’t fight anymore.
Wishes she could sink deeper into the sofa, it having grown soft from spending years on this porch, watching rain and holding court. Silent and faded, it bears sad witness.
He pulls more dramatically than her capitulation requires, the book spins. Clippings flutter like the feathers of a bird half dressed. He stands and is gone, tucking his shame in to the pockets of his tight jeans with lean fingers, none of us notice where. A fact that might devastate, as he is reliant on the way it feels to bask in hearts and eyes, even if through a tint of envy or scorn.
His meticulous attention to detail is wasted on me.
She freezes in his wake, her secrets spilled on the porch. I wait a count of three and lean slowly, creaking forward from a wicker chair with barely a sound.
My contact, fingers against the corner of a yellowing page gives her life again. She scrambles to gather the pieces of herself he carefully tossed with disdain.
Papers folded delicately, obituary origami, pinned by paperclip to keep them uniform.I see the pattern in her collection.
“Do you only collect the dead?”
She hesitates, trying to discern if the note in my voice is judgement of a kind she’s accustomed to.
I gesture with some of the papers I’ve picked up and she takes them as definitively as she can, while still being gentle. The motion of her hands, smoothing them, suggests the ‘no’ that she whispers, is a lie.