He sets his suitcase against the hall closet. She stands in the corridor producing a weak smile. He reads the creases in her forehead, her clenched jaw; she has had a rough day. Three peddles have fallen from the tulips he brought home yesterday; the water has already yellowed. The crystal vase it sits in was an anniversary present. It’s a Tuesday night. She used to go to the gym with her sister Sara on these Tuesday evenings. He remembers the black lycra shorts and the faded Roots tee. Both lie folded at the back of the closet.

In the kitchen, plates of spaghetti sit on the table.“I could have made dinner.” He scolds gently.“I know you could have,” she replies, “but I wanted to.”“You just don’t like my cooking” he chuckles.

This brings out another smile. Her determination to make their dinner, touches him. He pulls her closer and nuzzles his face into the curve of her neck. She sighs into him.

“It hurts, Ed.” Her horse voice whispers.

“I know.”

He hates how helpless he feels. She is so much smaller now; he traces his fingers along her vertebra. He didn’t use to be able to feel them in so much detail. Her ribs are stretching through her skin. His fingers slide over to the line. He knows exactly what it looks like; has felt its rough texture with his bottom lip. Will he ever be able to forget what it looked like fresh?  Ripe plum spreading into fuming pink; skin pursed at the edge of metal staples.

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