Despite what everyone had told me, this time was the last time I could imagine my insides as anything other than broken.
Dave was sitting just outside the bathroom door, listening, waiting to hear those short spurts of breath between explosive heaves, and gather me into his arms when I came out red-eyed, wet-faced. Sometimes he had to talk me out of hyperventilating. A little routine we’d strung together over the last few years: the vocal patterns, the sympathetic embrace, the carrying on. This time I’d skipped some steps.
I heard him lean his head back against the door, a thud that echoed his concern.
At the turn of the knob, when I looked through the crack, he stood and I slipped out with the test in my hand.
“Did you really expect it to be different this time?” I asked. He advanced toward me in his bear-cub like way, extending his arms.
“Kat,” he said, all downward inflection. And while I tried to contrast it and exude a sort of stoicism gliding out of the bathroom, I still felt small and fragile in his grip; squeezed a little harder and my bones would crack and crumple and collect as dust inside my skin.
Dave kissed the top of my head, kissed through the few silver wisps I hadn’t tried to cover woven into the brown and said, “We’re going to be fine, baby. Timing is a funny thing.”
Dependency, numbers—things I had very little use for.
“I’ll start on the asparagus if you get the grill going.” I said, and walked out of the room, the little white stick in my hand as inconsequential as a kitchen utensil or pen or straw. I dropped it in the trash, poured a small glass of wine, and searched through the cabinets for oregano.