The soap that you put in the bathroom started to smell like sadness and that was my first clue that something was wrong.
I called you three times and tried to fight down the inexplicable panic that ripped through me every time I got your voicemail. I called your work twice only to find that your cube mate hadn’t seen you in three days and that if you didn’t call in soon the boss had threatened to hire the temp permanently.
Despite my better judgement, I called your mother and used up the last dregs of sanity keeping myself from telling her that I had misplaced you again.
I called your sister, and she knew me well enough by then to hear the insincerity in my voice when I told her that nothing was wrong.
“Have you checked they keys?”
Of course I haven’t. But now I do. Your car key is missing, which I noticed the first time around, and this time I notice that there’s another bare hook. I grab my own car keys and fly.
The key that you took with you is the only way to open the gate, but it’s not the only way to get in. It wasn’t too terribly long ago that your father didn’t trust you yet, so we had to find alternative means of trespassing on his property. Though I am much more clumsy this time than the last, the tree still supports my weight and I am able to vault over the fence with only a few scratches to mark my lack of practice.
“I’m sorry,” you say when I find you. I don’t know why I didn’t think to look for you here before. This place is you almost as much as you are. I close the distance between us slowly; I have never been completely comfortable with the way the old wooden dock sways under out weight, but I always feigned confidence for you.
You flick your lit cigarette into the lake like you hope that I won’t notice. I didn’t think that you did that anymore, but at this point I’m so relieved that you’re still around that I don’t care about your vices. I fold myself up beside you as you puzzle out an answer.
“I’m sorry that I took off. I just…I don’t feel like me sometimes.”
One of the first things that I noticed about you was how uncomfortable you were in your own skin. All I’ve ever tried to do is make you realize how beautiful you are.
“But when you’re here, you do.”
You keep your eyes on the water, at the exact spot where your cigarette disappeared. You wind an arm around me and I fold into you like I always have.
“When I’m here,” you say, shifting so that my head can rest in the cradle of your shoulder, “I do.”
You press your mouth against my hair and breathe me in and that small bit of contact is how I know that we’re going to be okay for now.
If I only I could convince myself that now could last forever.