“Yes,” she whispered, “I love you, dear.”
And she brought her shoulder in, as if to draw the words closer, to warm the nape of my neck. I sensed doubt: perhaps only in that, once the breaths she’d shaped had unfurled to silence, my own isolation, my poor alienated soul, bled into the room. I want desperately to bring her ashore and to ask her does she feel this way too. But the inevitability of her reply only deepens the moon-churned ocean between us. She’d smile tenderly like a lover who believes and tell me yes, sometimes, but I’d see in her face - and in hers all those I’ve ever known - that her soul stands alone, shivering, the daring tide lapping its toes, too afraid to swim.