We are sitting at a small table, drinking coffee and flipping through the newspaper. There is comfortable silence, and even as it lengthens, neither of us feels the need to speak. There will be time for talking later.
For now, the stillness is lovely.
The silence accumulates, the coffee is finished. The newspaper is folded, fatter with use, its pages misaligned. I reach to smooth it, to provide a new crease, and I run my fingers down hard along the new spine I have created. Ink meets the whorls of my two fingertips and reaches out to fill the empty spaces.
He watches me.
The silence between us is somehow met by an invisible tension. Charged.
I examine the darkened ovals of my fingertips and then bring them to my mouth, dampen them with my tongue.
He watches me.
I reach out and press my two inked fingers into the bare skin of his forearm, leaving two small smudges of ink. Identifying me and claiming him in one small motion.
We watch one another.
There is more silence, but it is a silence filled with words.
Unspoken wanting words.
He reaches for me with the arm I have claimed, traces a finger from behind my ear down the length of my jaw. Gently.
His finger stops beneath my chin, and I feel the gentleness become a soft pressure.
Beneath my chin he leaves his fingerprint. Identifying him and claiming me in one small motion.
I feel pulled but not quite pulled by the small continuing touch of his single finger . . . invited.
I lean forward into his touch, and he guides me through the expanse of space between us. Until there is no space between us. And when there is no space left between us, his finger joins the rest of his hand to slide to the back of my neck. To pull me into him.
Our lips . . .
“Hey babe, do you want another cup of coffee?”
I quickly minimize the screen, down the last sip of my first cup of coffee, and look up into my husband’s eyes, “Ummmm, yes. Thanks!”
He disappears for a moment and then returns, sets the coffee down in front of me, stares at my empty screen in confusion, “I thought I heard you typing something.”
“Yeah, I was answering a few emails. I haven’t figured out what I’m going to post today. My brain is all distracted.”
Mark sits down at his desk, sips his own coffee, and laughs, “Well, if you just watch me? If we just talk for a little bit? I am sure I will do or say something stupid that will inspire you.”
He laughs, “I can be your stupid muse!”
We drink our coffee at our separate desks.
Mark turns to me, “Were you done with the newspaper? I was going to toss it in the recycling bin, but I wasn’t sure.”
“Yes, thanks. I’m done with it.”
We talk for a bit about the things we noticed in the newspaper, a movie Mark wants to see, the fact that the girls did not put away their clean clothes before they left for school this morning. But then there is silence.
After 24 years? It does not occur to either of us to break the silence.
There is no need to fill the silences between us.
Silence is comfortable.
It will end when it is supposed to end.
With these words, “I have a meeting this afternoon. I’ll be out for a few hours.”
I answer without looking up from my computer, “OK, babe.”
He gets up from his desk, steps behind me, lays his hands on my shoulders. Looks at my empty screen, “You’ll think of something, babe. You always think of something.”
I feel the pressure of all his fingertips against my body. The weight of his hands.
I lean backward into his body and bring my own hands up to rest upon his hands.
I lean my head back to meet his eyes.
He leans down to kiss me. A soft kiss.
Identifying us and claiming us in one small motion.
This marriage thing?
It is lovely.