It doesn’t come suddenly round a bend, like a larger-than-life truck blocking the road when you turn. More like a weekly trickle from the roof that grows into a daily then an hourly loss until the roof collapses on you like papier-mâché canopy, and you are naked babe under the sky.
The end comes slowly, small moments steadily losing their luster over time.
The shared space between them, once fuzzy and alive like a well-loved house cat, was vacuum now. The contours of the house they had built together, once a secret map punctuated with clues of meaning and memory, were reduced to functional frames now.
Both felt a peaceful numbness that last night, when the agony of indecision was over. The decision had inverted the meaning of their shared dictionary of gestures. Even for the single shared night, a new protocol was necessary, it seemed.
Lying together in the same bed felt wrong. For the first time, he slept on the couch.
The morning of departure, when he woke to the usual alarm, his phone was flooded with news of lockdown; all trade and movement suspended until further notice.
Necessity made them start again; the logistical impossibility of adhering to a protocol agreed less a day ago.
Once begun, familiar concerns rose to the surface once more. Care, an instinct hiding in the creases, crept back upon them, this time in the guise of need. It was no longer a luxury, but a matter of life and death. Were there enough disinfectants in the house? Were they well stocked? How should they consume more vitamin C to boost their immunity?
The television, earlier a nuisance, was a lifeline now, its steady drone an anchor. Everything they had begun to see from the lens of abandon and endgame, they began to see through a lens of continuity and preservation.
A love he had glimpsed in the early years was back in her gestures, he noticed, as she washed the chicken at the sink. When he checked the supplies before making the grocery list, there was a concern of sustenance behind his count, something that went beyond the confines of the present moment and became a concern for the life of our collective species.
Their sight now upon the larger scheme of things, these moments were precious, gift-like. A gratitude pulsed its way steadily back into gestures grown mindless; crossing each other in the hallway, slipping into bed each from their designated side. The fuzzy beast of old and sure love was between them once again, the house, once more, a palimpsest of codes to which they alone were privy.
Perhaps moments were nothing but vessels in themselves, molecules that could be moulded either way.
Author, Poet, Literary Translator @NaimaRashid_