long time ago I lived with a woman with whom I was madly in love. She had flat fingers and long white hair, and she coughed in the bathtub through the lungs of a lingering cold. We never spoke a single word to each other.
Instead of conversations we would make love. If she wanted to tell me about her day she would climb on top of me. If I needed to ask her to pass me the salt at dinner I would make love to her, and when we were done she would wink and hand me the pepper.
I always wondered what it would sound like for her to say my name. Would I even recognize the word?
In the early months of our relationship we made love as if we were planning an expedition to another planet. We figured let's at least plan it if we can't do it. Planning is the fun part anyway. The doing of the thing would only be a lot of peril and hard work and who needs that?
The old folks told me, You're wasting your time on this relationship. The two of you never even talk anymore.
We never talked to begin with, I told them.
Wasting your youth, they said. You're wasting your youth on pipe dreams and outer space and expeditions and silent romances.
But isn't that what youth is for--to be wasted?
My youth was like a spring storm in a monastery. It was making love with my clothes on in a field where those who have lost their faith come to be baptized into profanity. She was like a baptism of sleep, submerged in the dreams of the mute.
One morning I woke up after a good long three years with her. Three years with a woman I never spoke a word to. I was thirsty and she walked me to the door. She seemed to know what was coming even though I did not. I had only decided to go out for some orange juice.
She kissed my forehead and unlocked the locks and let me out. "Goodbye," she said.
Josh Wagner sometimes plays checkers on his back porch in Missoula,
Montana. He is currently involved in publishing his first novel, The
Adventures of the Imagination of Periphery Stowe.
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story copyright by author 2003 all rights reserved