He swiped the towel over her mouth a little too abruptly, lines appearing briefly between her eyebrows, then gone, her eyes dull as buttons.
"Sorry, Honey," moving the towel more gently now, efficient as a nurse, as a professional caregiver. One who gives care, as opposed to one who simply cares.
She was an Amazon, once. A head taller than any other woman, and most of the men. Queen of the campus, students lining up outside her office like acolytes, her smile calming them, opening up pathways into their brains the way she'd opened him, until he felt the sun shining straight into his cerebral cortex, like a piece of skull missing, his brain vulnerable to any passing breeze.
Her hands lay empty on the bedspread, eyes closing, already sinking back into sleep.
She was rounded and full once, her hips rising under his hand, heat coming off her like a promise. The way she laughed with her whole face, those rich lips open, eyes screwed tight as flowers.
Her wrists are skinny now, light as matches. He traces her outline with two fingers, not touching, then straightens up. She needs her sleep, the laundry needs doing, the dishes washed, her next dose ready.
She said she was a real Amazon after surgery, the two of them touching the flattened space, the scar after it healed. She laughed and pushed her belly against his hand, kissing him hard and laughing.
He's almost to the door and feels a tickle at the back of his neck. He turns to see her looking at him, her mouth almost smiling. It's been days since she's spoken. He drops the laundry, and crouches down beside the bed, his head level with hers.
Her eyes seem fully conscious, looking at him. He hasn't been lover for a long time now. Not partner, either. He can stand up and walk away, play basketball, eat pizza. Make plans for the summer.
No, he's something else, something they share only with each other, more intimate than love. A connection runs between them, deep and wide as their bodies and the souls that hover near, and he wonders if he will see the moment when hers pulls loose, trailing its silver thread, its umbilical cord, pulling free of the womb of this world.
With apologies and love to John and Lynn; to Geo and her Gram.